Cash boost for tourism hotspots
Schemes to improve tourism infrastructure at popular spots on Skye and Orkney have been given more than £400,000 through a Scottish Government fund.
Orkney Islands Council will be given £80,000 to help build a £150,000 car park for the Standing Stones of Stenness, part of a World Heritage Site.
The council is contributing £30,000 to upgrading the informal parking and Historic Environment Scotland is giving £50,000.
Highland Council will receive £100,000 towards a £165,000 project to improve road access and parking at the Neist Point lighthouse on the Western tip of Skye.
The council will cover the remaining cost of the road surface improvements and new parking spaces.
The local authority will also be given up to £300,000 on behalf of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland to develop visitor facilities, including toilets, at the Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle on Skye.
The cash from the £6 million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund is in addition to the £300,000 of public money announced earlier this week for traffic and parking upgrades at the Fairy Pools and Quiraing on the island.
Tourism Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "The tourism boom is great news for rural Scotland, bringing jobs and investment to communities.
"Yet we are also seeing pressures on services, facilities and transport, which is why we are taking action.
"These pilots in Orkney and Skye will quickly deliver benefits and help us finalise the way the scheme operates, before it opens up soon to more applications from around the country."
The fund, announced last year after concerns were raised about traffic jams due to soaring visitor numbers at some sites, will be open from April for applications from local authorities on behalf of their communities.
Tourism body VisitScotland will administer the fund which will support infrastructure improvements such as parking, camping, visitor facilities and recycling points.