Businesses in and around Cairngorms National Park (CNP) are being urged to get to get behind the Snow Roads Scenic Route and follow in the footsteps of those reaping the rewards of the North Coast (NC500).
Ambitious plans to develop a scenic route through the heart of CNP are the focus of the Cairngorms Business Partnership (CBP) spring conference in Glen Tanar Estate ballroom this morning.
Firms will learn how they can maximise the benefits of the Snow Roads project, which aims to establish a 90-mile journey through parts of the Highlands, Moray and Aberdeenshire in order to attract many more tourists.
The managing director of Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, Scott Morrison, will explain how it has already enjoyed record visitor numbers, thanks to the success of NC500.
A recent study showed NC500 has transformed the local economy, with the 516-mile loop – inspired by the iconic Route 66 in the US – bringing in an extra 29,000 visitors and £9million during its first year.
Mr Morrison said: “We have seen huge benefits from the North Coast 500.
“Our annual visitor numbers have gone from 67,000 to 85,000 since it launched and we now have big ambitions for further expansion at the castle.
“My advice to businesses in and around the Snow Roads is to grab hold of the opportunity and make it work for you.
“I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and demonstrating the benefits a route like this can bring to communities.”
The Snow Roads route takes in the A93 and A939 from Blairgowrie through Aberdeenshire and Grantown, covering the likes of Glenshee, Corgarff, Balmoral, the Lecht and many other towns and villages.
As part of the Scottish Government’s Scenic Routes initiative, three art installations were commissioned and placed along the route near the Devil’s Elbow in Glenshee, a viewpoint at Corgarff and in Tomintoul.
CBP has also bolstered its team to help put the new route on the map by appointing a project manager, Jennifer Green.
And the plans have been boosted by a £245,000 Scottish Enterprise grant from the Tourism Destination Development Fund, together with support from CBP and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA).
CBP chief executive Mark Tate said: “We have an exciting opportunity to create a truly immersive visitor experience and a destination road which will have a major positive economic impact on communities and businesses along the route.
“It has local and international appeal for families on a Highland adventure, classic car drivers and cyclists.
“The technology and tools we develop throughout this project will be invaluable for tourists and businesses alike as they promote this journey as a bucket-list destination to the world.”
Peter Crane, head of visitor services, CNPA, added: “We have already received great support from local landowners and communities regarding the installations along the route and there is a real excitement building for the project among all involved.”