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An investment of £475,491 will see major improvements to facilities for campers on the Isle of Gigha from next spring.
In response to increased visitor numbers and concerns about problematic parking and camping, the island’s heritage trust sought funding for a new site with toilets and showers and camping pitches as well as electricity points and waste disposal facilities for motorhomes.
Just over £200,000 of the build costs have been funded through VisitScotland’s rural tourism and infrastructure fund, administered on behalf of The Scottish Government. The rest of the funding has come from the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll and Bute Council.
Jane Millar, development manager for The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, said: ‘We are delighted to have secured funding from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund for the Gigha camp and motorhome project.
‘Gigha currently has an accommodation shortage, which has a knock-on effect on the island’s tourist season. The number of visitors to Gigha has steadily risen from 2015 and during peak times we cannot accommodate all visitors. Therefore, the new facility will be welcomed by visitors who wish to spend more than a day on Gigha.’
The chosen site location is within walking distance of the island’s ferry slip and so fits with Gigha’s wider strategy to reduce use of vehicles on the island.
Jane added: ‘We look are looking forward to improving our visitors experience and supporting a sustainable approach towards tourism for our community. The Isle of Gigha camp and motorhome site is due to welcome its first visitors in spring 2022.’
VisitScotland’s regional director for Argyll David Adams McGilp also welcomed the beginning of this new infrastructure programme.
He said: ‘VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future. We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Argyll & Bute’s economy.
‘I am delighted VisitScotland’s rural tourism and infrastructure fund is able to commit such a substantial investment to improving Gigha’s facilities and amenities. Visitors can now enjoy the island’s stunning scenery and birdlife in more comfort, reducing the impact on the local community whilst supporting tourism jobs and businesses.
‘Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in Argyll & Bute and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it.’
The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund was established by The Scottish Government and to date, £9 million of grant funding has been awarded to 45 projects across rural Scotland, since the start of the Fund in 2018.
Argyll and Bute Council has contributed £10,000 to the project through a new ‘staycation’ funding scheme.
Council leader Councillor Robin Currie said: ‘Tourism is a vital industry to the people of Argyll and Bute supporting so many of our rural communities. As we help to support ongoing recovery, it’s fantastic that the rise in domestic tourism is having a positive impact on the local economy.
‘At the same time, we want to encourage responsible tourism and help provide appropriate amenities and facilities to cope with the increase in demand.
After a hugely challenging time for the industry, the RTIF funding in addition to the Council’s Staycation funding of £10,000 is welcomed.’