Funding bonanza for Arran’s tourism industry

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Tourism on Arran is to receive millions of pounds of funding in two recently announced funding initiatives aimed at celebrating our natural heritage and promoting the area as a top tourist destination.

The Scottish Government announced a £300k funding boost for tourism in Ayrshire, Firth of Clyde and Clyde Islands at an industry event hosted by Scottish Tourism Alliance at The Waterside Hotel in West Kilbride on Wednesday.

Attending the event were more than 100 stakeholders from across the region including Linda Johnston of Auchrannie Leisure Ltd and Alastair Dobson of Taste of Arran and Arran Dairies.

The initiative known as Five Routes – One Great Adventure was announced by Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop who said: ‘This announcement is an exciting development for Ayrshire and the wider region. The opening of this stunning series of five ring routes will help showcase Ayrshire’s natural beauty and enhance the region’s tourism offer.

‘These routes, and the co-operative working between the industry and local authorities, are an important development and will help Ayrshire develop as a destination showcasing to our visitors all that the region has to offer.

‘I am pleased to announce £300,000 Scottish Government funding towards this project, in line with our Programme for Government commitment to promote Ayrshire as a tourism destination.”

The event offered local businesses and other stakeholders the opportunity to be among the first to hear about the funding and how to involved in the project.

Additionally a £7M fund was announced on Monday through the Government’s European Regional Development Fund programme and match funding from other sources.

£5 million of that will be from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, which is led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) who will invest in projects that benefit the Highlands and Islands by improving the experience of visitors who go to discover and explore the region’s nature and culture.

The fund will invest in around 10 major new projects. In addition to promoting the nature and culture of the area, this investment aims to create and support jobs, helping communities to sustain local services.

Job creation is an important measure of success for the fund and so all projects are encouraged to demonstrate benefits such as creating and sustaining employment, businesses and services in the local community. However, the fund is not suitable for applications from the private sector, individuals, commercial enterprise, or organisations run entirely by volunteers.

Kenneth Gibson MSP commented: ‘I welcome this significant investment, from which the isles of Arran and Cumbrae have an opportunity to benefit.

‘Projects must be seeking an European Regional Development Fund grant of a minimum of £250,000 with a total eligible project cost of £360,000 or more, so this offers an enormous potential.

‘SNH has already met with over 100 prospective applicants at events across the Highlands and Islands to discuss their project ideas, but they are looking for more to come forward.

‘The funding round closes on Monday April 22, so I would encourage public, voluntary and third sector organisations on Cumbrae and Arran to visit the dedicated Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund website for further information on eligibility and how to apply.’

Decisions on the successful project for SNH funding will be announced in September.