Highlands and Islands tourism projects get £5m funding boost

A £5 million fund is being launched to support projects that showcase the “breathtaking” scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands and Islands.

Ten projects will be chosen to benefit from the new Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, which is led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The fund will support projects that encourage visitors to experience more of the unique nature and culture of the Highlands and Islands and also aims to benefit communities.

Each project will receive at least £250,000 from the fund.

Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister Ivan McKee, said: “Today’s announcement of the £5 million 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 £5 million 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.”

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 £7 million.

The funding round will open in early January 2019 and close in late April 2019, with decisions on the successful projects to be announced in early summer next year.

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.”

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