Additional £2.6m award for Highlands & Islands tourism projects

Four projects in the Highlands and Islands will share a £2.6 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) award to promote the outstanding scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands and Islands.

Additional £2.6m award for Highlands & Islands tourism projects

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse (Photo: Archaeology Scotland)

The funding has been awarded through the Natural Cultural and Heritage Fund, led by NatureScot. The fund invests in projects in the Highlands and Islands which improve the experience of visitors exploring the region’s nature and culture, and support jobs in remote and rural areas.

The funding for these four new projects are in addition to £5m for nine projects announced in December 2019.

NatureScot has approved funding for Archaeology Scotland to start their project for a heritage and tourism network in the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Projects NatureScot also plan to fund include improved visitor infrastructure at sites on the Isle of Skye, new visitor facilities at the Highland Wildlife Park, and a circular historic route around Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst.

Announcing the funding, Fergus Ewing, rural economy secretary, said: “Our commitment to supporting our outstanding nature and vibrant culture in the Highlands and Islands is reflected in this latest £2.6m European Regional Development Fund investment, which follows the £5m funding awarded less than 18 months ago.

“We are dedicated to enhancing employment in our rural communities and developing further the experience for locals and visitors, who cherish these areas of spectacular natural interest and beauty.

“The range of projects underlines the diverse attractions we know will continue to drive job opportunities and increase visitor numbers.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot chief executive, added: “Nature and culture are intrinsically linked in the beautiful Highlands and Islands. They are central to local economies and help maintain rural populations, jobs and skills, especially at a time when a green recovery from the pandemic is so important. These four fantastic projects will make a real difference to rural communities for years to come, and give visitors even more to enjoy in these iconic areas of Scotland.”

Phil Richardson, Archaeology Scotland project manager, commented: “Archaeology Scotland is very excited to begin work with our partners on Ardnamurchan. The project will allow us to develop our Adopt-a- Monument Scheme, supported by Historic Environment Scotland, into a more holistic heritage tourism and engagement programme.

“Our goal is to connect people to the deep and rich cultural past of the peninsula, and our field work, excavations, experimental archaeology and innovative interpretation will have a significant impact on the understanding, enjoyment and care of the historical environment of the peninsula for local people, businesses and visitors.”

The projects receiving funding include:

  • Archaeology Scotland – The Real Wild West – Adopt-a-Monument and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula (£306,844) - The Real Wild West project will develop a heritage and tourism network and strategy, as well as develop interpretation at important sites and locations, create a trail through west Ardnamurchan, and improve access, condition and maintenance of 10 heritage sites.
  • Outdoors Access Trust for Scotland, Skye’s Iconic Natural Heritage Sites - (£748,954) - There will be new interpretation, promotion and marketing on the Isle of Skye, providing improvements at Skye’s Iconic Natural Heritage Sites including the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing. The project will develop infrastructure to help a wider and more diverse range of people access the sites and will provide a better visitor experience.
  • NatureScot, Hermaness Hill Path and Welcome Area - (£541,718) - NatureScot will install 1940m of recycled plastic boardwalk to reinstate the historic route to Muckle Flugga lighthouse signalling station at Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst in the Shetland Islands, creating a circular route around Hermaness National Nature Reserve, while protecting fragile blanket bog and rare nesting birds. An innovative shelter will be installed at the reserve entrance, housing interpretation to accommodate an increasing number of visitors.
  • The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre - (£980,000) - New visitor facilities at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kincraig, to showcase the richness and diversity of native wildlife.

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