Highland Councillors have given the go-ahead for the local authority to produce a 5-year Visitor Management Plan which will aim to address the forthcoming 2021 tourism season and future years’ visitor demands expected upon the region.
Highland Council’s Chair of Tourism Committee, Cllr Maxine Smith (pictured) said:
“Members are in agreement that our experiences in Highland communities this summer have clearly demonstrated that we need a visitor management plan for Highland.
“We must to be able to respond positively on the front-and-welcoming-foot to the increasing numbers of visitors to Highland.
“A clear direction on where we will allocate our resources on visitor management will aim to help alleviate the pressures on infrastructure at visitor attractions, beauty spots, rural roads and locations and in our villages and towns.
“The need to plan this over the longer term is also vital.”
Members agreed that a Council officer working group created this summer be continued as a cross-service Visitor Management Group.
Cllr Smith added:
“I would like to thank the work that has already been undertaken by Council officers in the creation of the cross-service Visitor Management Group and for their partnership working with other organisations in preparations for the outline plan proposals so far.”
Since the ease of lockdown, Highland Council services and partners such as Police Scotland experienced a range of rapidly increasing visitor demands on roads, parking and transport; amenity and waste; outdoor access and environmental and public health which caused a range of issues.
To try and address some of the issues being experienced during summer, Highland Council met in July with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism and local Members and community bodies in Ward 11 – Caol and Mallaig.
A multi-agency environmental health group was also established to co-ordinate enforcement and communications on ‘dirty camping’ issues and to share best practice.
Members agreed that a short-term plan for 2021 will be presented to a future meeting of the Tourism Committee at the earliest opportunity and that longer term ambitions will be developed as part of a 5 year Visitor Management Plan.