Moray villagers have welcomed the granting of permission for a stopover facility at a peaceful nature reserve as part of efforts to find a “happy medium” between tourism and conservation.
Members of the Findhorn Village Conservation Company (FVCC) previously raised concerns about the village being overrun by tourists as a result of the post-lockdown staycation boom.
For more than two years, the group has been collecting voluntary fees of £1 for cars and £10 for motorhomes from the West Beach car park.
The income generated has been used to maintain the site for visitors as well as make improvements for residents, but at times the number of visitors and vehicles has been too much for the small but popular community, which boasts fine beaches and watersports.
Now plans to formalise arrangements for motorhomes have been given the green light by Moray Council.
This means there will 21 marked bays for visitors’ with camper vans and motorhomes , which can be booked in advance to use for up to 36 hours.
Last night, FVCC chairwoman Christine Hunt said the facility would be a boon to visitors and boost the local economy.
She said: “We very much welcome the opportunity to enhance the experience of tourists to the area.
“This year saw a significant increase in the number of vehicles wishing to stay in Findhorn.
“In anticipation of next year bringing a similar number, the TFVCC is going to introduce a booking system using the “freetobook” platform.
“It is important we consider all aspects and try to give tourists that spend money in our area a pleasant experience and look after the environment around them.
“Finding a happy medium is going to be our main challenge.
“We had at one point more than 50 vans trying to park up at Findhorn in the car park, which was obviously to nobody’s advantage.
“We hope with 21 stopover points we can control the number of vans to ensure there is space for everyone.”
During the summer, thousands of Scots swapped jetting abroad for staycations to explore different parts of the country and enjoy a deserved break after months of constraints on their movement.
Ms Hunt added: “People who visit provide a vital input into the local community, shops and pubs.
“We want to be welcoming without spoiling it for the people who live here.
“Tourism is a really important part of the local economy and this year showed that.
“We are fully prepared for next year and we want to try to ensure everyone has a great time in Findhorn.”