The North’s leading tourism destinations could benefit from a share of £6 million after the Government launched a new fund to help attract more visitors to rural communities.
The Scottish Government Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, administered by VisitScotland, will support well-planned and inspiring infrastructure projects in a bid to encourage more tourists to remote locations across the north.
Local authorities and national parks are now being invited to submit applications for grants.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first announced plans for the new fund last year, with applications being accepted over the next two years.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Tourism is a vital part of our economy, bringing jobs and investment to many rural communities across the country.
“While visitor numbers increase, it is important communities have the infrastructure to support this. The pilot project completed at Neist Point has been very successful, providing additional parking for visitors to the area.
“This fund will help more rural communities improve visitor experiences to ensure our world class destinations can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Three famous landmarks in Scotland have become the first to receive funding from the grant, including Fairy Pools and Neist Point on Skye and the Standing Stones of Stenness on Orkney.
A total of £480,000 has been donated towards the completion of works in these locations ahead of the country’s tourist season.
Chair of the Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “Work has been completed to improve parking facilities for visitors to Neist Point on Skye.
“This includes 300m of new additional parking, new passing places and resurfacing of the road and car park.
“This is excellent news and the improvements, ready in time for the main tourist season, will be welcomed by both visitors to this popular site and local communities.”