The Scottish Government’s £6million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) was formally launched on Friday 30 March. The Fund will be administered by VisitScotland, with applications to be submitted by local or National Park authorities.
The RTIF aims to support collaborative projects that focus on improving the visitor experience in rural areas that have faced pressure on their infrastructure or negative impacts on communities due to significant increases in visitor numbers.
The types of projects which can be supported include:
- Parking and scenic lay-bys
- Camping facilities
- Disposal points (especially for camper vans)
- Toilet provision
- Essential improvement works to paths (where they alleviate visitor pressures)
- Recycling points
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar intends to submit an Outer Hebrides wide application on behalf of the tourism sector. The timescale for the initial expression of interest is tight - 27 April 2018. Full applications are to be submitted by 27 July 2018.
Cllr. Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee said: "This is an excellent opportunity to improve the experience for our visitors and alleviate some of the problems we encountered last summer. The Comhairle is looking for community input to highlight the most severe pressure points and areas which have suffered a negative impact. We also need input as to what the solutions might be. The fund is limited - with a maximum award of £300k - so we need to think creatively and work together across the tourism, public and private sectors.
We will be working in collaboration with the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 Leadership Group to ensure that a robust application is submitted and the maximum benefit is derived from any funding approval."