A £1.2 million funding package has been given the green light by Scottish Enterprise to deliver key tourism improvements across the Royal Deeside and Cairngorms. The funds will help position the area as a world class destination that competes with high quality mountain valley locations around the world.
Tourism development in the area is one of the key priorities for public/private partnership Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future and SE's investment is part of a wider £5.8m programme that includes funding from Aberdeenshire Council, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage and VisitScotland.
Scottish Enterprise also estimates an additional £14m in private sector investment will be generated through accommodation and resort development as a result of public sector support.
The main objectives of this latest investment programme include: Support for the Destination Management Organisation (DMO), Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms Ltd, to build robust industry leadership and deliver workforce development, a strong brand, marketing plan and programme of events.
Completion of connecting path networks and signage along the long-distance Deeside Way, to position the destination as a leading area for walking and cycling.
Working with investors and developers to appraise new and existing resort and accommodation opportunities which are vital to the transformation of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms.
Work to further develop and enhance the Deeside and Cairngorms as a key tourism destination began in 2006 with the creation of the private sector led Royal Deeside and Cairngorms DMO which brought together industry leaders and business groups in Deeside under a shared vision to improve the product quality and visitor experience.
Since then membership of the DMO has grown and it has been involved in the development of a new winter festival of events including the Enchanted Glen event, held in December 2008 at Glen Tanar, attracting over 4000 visitors.
David Littlejohn, director of industries and infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: "Over the past two years the foundation has been laid to develop Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms as a world class sustainable tourism destination. This targeted investment will now allow our strong private and public sector partnership to build on that foundation and put in place the infrastructure, product innovation and business development required to take the visitor experience to the next level, which in turn will grow tourism revenue and contribute to the Scottish Government's Tourism Framework for Change."
Claire Bruce, chair of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms DMO, said: "This is a very welcome boost to the further development of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms area. The business community across the region welcome the continued support in business develop and product innovation and we are confident that this funding will contribute significantly to the long term sustainability of the area as one of Scotland's best tourism destinations."
Cllr Peter Argyle, a Deeside Councillor and chair of the Council's Infrastructure Services Committee, also welcomed the new investment : "The businesses in the area have invested time and effort into this new Destination Management Organisation and the continued support from Scottish Enterprise can be seen as a reward for their commitment. The Council will continue to work with the enterprise agency and the Deeside communities on the programme of investments."
It is expected that this latest programme of improvements will increase annual visitor spending in the area by 58% to £80.4m and will support an additional 671 direct jobs in the sector by 2015.