Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop has hailed the “great potential” in plans to create the north-east’s own version of the North Coast 500 driving route.
But she added that it was “very important that all of the north-east can benefit” from the proposed “North East 250” attraction.
The NE250 proposal was unveiled last week by Guy Macpherson-Grant, who owns Ballindalloch Castle in Speyside, and is hoping to recreate the hugely popular NC500 in the Highlands, which has generated £9million for the economy and brought in 29,000 new visitors to the area.
It would take visitors through Speyside, the Cairngorms, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, the east coast and Moray, but there have been complaints that places such as Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle have not been included in the route.
At the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett asked Ms Hyslop if the Scottish Government was backing the plan.
The SNP minister responded: “The Scottish Government welcomes industry-led initiatives such as the North East 250.
“Launched on 8 November, the North East 250 is a privately developed route that has the potential to encourage visitors to experience the wonderful scenery, rich culture and numerous attractions that the north-east has to offer, from coastal villages in Banff and Buchan and the distilleries of Speyside and Royal Deeside to the vibrant city of Aberdeen.”
She added: “The initiative has not ‘come to the north-east’, it has been developed by private interests there. I encourage them to engage with everybody so that its progress can be seen.
“If it is anything like the North Coast 500, there is great potential to maximise its economic impact, but it is very important that all of the north-east can benefit from it. I hope that engagement and inclusion will be part of that privately led initiative.”