A £5 million fund has been set up to give a cash injection 10 new tourism projects that showcase the outstanding scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands and Islands.
The new Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), will support projects that encourage visitors to experience more of the unique nature and culture of the area.
It also aims to benefit communities, with the projects it supports helping to retain local jobs and services. Each project is to receive at least £250,000.
Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, said: “Today’s announcement of the £5million Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is fantastic news for the Highlands and Islands. This money will go towards improving visitors’ facilities and access to its most remote and rural areas.
“The £5million comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will support inclusive and sustainable growth, a key part of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework. Scotland’s breathtaking scenery and culture is recognised around the world, and improving the experiences for tourists in the Highlands and Islands will benefit the national and local economies by sustaining jobs and creating new opportunities.”
Mike Cantlay, SNH chairman, said: “The close links between nature and culture in the Highlands and Islands are a huge draw for tourists across the globe, and the economic benefits are a vital way of maintaining our rural populations, jobs and skills.
“Parts of the Highlands and Islands are well served, but we know there are even more out there with potential to bring benefits to rural communities in the coming years. We are hugely excited to find out more about projects that can make a crucial difference to visitor experience, as well as local quality of life.”
The funding comes through the Scottish Government’s European Regional Development Fund programme, with match funding from other sources bringing overall investment to more than £7m.
Throughout the rest of 2018, SNH will be promoting the fund at events across the Highlands and Islands and meeting with prospective applicants to discuss potential projects.
The funding round will open in early January 2019 and close late April 2019. Decisions on the successful projects will be announced in early summer 2019.