Car parks, motor home facilities and toilets dominate the growing list of community projects looking for support from the Scottish Government’s rural tourism infrastructure fund (RTIF).
Highland Council has put forward 18 projects to bid for a bite of the £3 million fund, though projects from earlier phases continue to be delayed by coronavirus.
Phase three gives applicants the opportunity to apply for a small design grant to support some of the upfront costs associated with their project.
Of the 18 projects being put forward from all corners of the region, all except two are from communities wishing to build or extend car parks, install facilities for motor homes or put in or upgrade toilets.
These communities include Gairloch, Arisaig, Elgol, Sleat, Balintore, Kyle of Sutherland, Dornoch, Kinlochewe, Achintee, Falls of Foyers, Invermoriston, Aultbea, Kilt Rock, Strathpeffer, and Ardnamurchan.
The National Trust is looking for help to improve tourist infrastructure and management along the A82 in Glencoe and Glen Etive.
In Drumnadrochit, meanwhile, the Glenurquhart Rural Community Association has put forward a project to diversify and develop its new local community social enterprise initiative and take forward active travel plans.
It is hoped the projects, if successful, will have a significant impact on facilities for communities and visitors to the north.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed projects signed off in phases and and two of the fund.
The only project fully completed is the John Muir Trust’s introduction of composting toilets and a carpark at Blahbeinn, Skye.
Other projects waiting to start – which received funding totalling £1.1 million – include improvements to the Old Man of Storr toilets and motorhome facilities project on Skye, a 100 space carpark for Glenfinnan, motorhome chemical waste facilities at Lochinver and new toilets and motorhome facilities at Traigh beach in Mallaig.
The six successful projects in phase two have received more than £1.4 million in RTIF grants.
They include new toilets, showers, interpretation and signage at An Liaimhrig on the Isle of Eigg and new campervan facilities and improved slipways at Cromarty.
A bridge to join Glenfinnan’s new car park to the viaduct has been signed-off but delayed due to coronavirus.
Highland Council has been working on a Highland tourism infrastructure plan, enabling gaps in provision to be identified.
That has also been on hold as, in March, the council’s tourism team took on delivery of the Covid-19 small business grants to Highland businesses.