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National Park prepared for post-lockdown visitor surge

March 17, 2021

Significant increases in staff, toilets and parking capacity are among the measures that will be in place across Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park when travel restrictions ease on 26th April.

A Joint Response Visitor Management Plan has been developed for the 2021 season by the National Park Authority and a number of partners including Police Scotland, Transport Scotland, Forestry & Land Scotland and the four local authorities that cover the area, following a significant increase in visitor numbers last year.

There was a surge in visitor numbers in 2020 as lockdown measures eased and it is expected that there will be similar demand for day trips and staycations when restrictions ease over the coming months.

Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said:  “While we remain in lockdown, we continue to urge people to comply with the current Scottish Government restrictions and not to travel beyond their local authority area at the moment. But when travel restrictions ease on 26th April, we will be ready to welcome visitors back and we will have plenty of people on the ground to ensure they can enjoy this amazing place safely and responsibly.

“One of the positives that came out of the pandemic last year was that more Scots discovered the natural environment closer to home and that is something we want to support, especially after months where opportunities to travel have been limited.

“However, the huge surge in visitor numbers in 2020 did bring with it challenges and pressures, particularly on communities in popular, rural locations.

“Since the end of the 2020 visitor season, we have worked closely with our partners on a joined-up response to the anticipated demand for staycations and day trips in the months ahead. We are committing a significant increase in joint resources to help alleviate the pressures that we expect across the National Park when COVID-19 travel restrictions ease on 26th April.”

The plan includes additional Rangers, wardens and enforcement officers, extended toilet opening hours and extra toilets at popular visitor locations, increased litter collections and more staffing at weekends.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is home to some of the most iconic landscapes in Scotland and attracts millions of visitors every year.

Key pressures from 2020 included irresponsible parking and road congestion, littering, and antisocial behaviour associated with some informal camping.

This year, all organisations involved in managing visitor pressures in the National Park have worked together to increase resources and presence on the ground, including:

  • Additional public toilets in busy locations and extended toilet opening hours
  • 40 seasonal National Park Rangers, in addition to permanent Rangers
  • A new team of environment officers to tackle littering and flytipping
  • Expanded car parking capacity planned at locations such as Ben A’an and Trossachs Pier at Loch Katrine
  • New traffic signage and clearways to reduce congestion and irresponsible parking
  • £240,000 investment from Perth & Kinross Council to pilot a new ranger service – will include the St Fillans area of the National Park.
  • Extra overnight parking for motorhomes to reduce pressure on day visitor car parks
  • Pop-up information stations for visitors
  • More staff at weekends
  • A parking monitoring and update system in place to help day trippers plan their visit and see which areas are already at capacity

Being within an hour’s drive from more than 50% of Scotland’s population, the National Park is a popular option for last minute daytrips and overnight stays.

Chief Superintendent Alan Gibson, Divisional Commander for Forth Valley, said: “The Chief Constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives.

“People should not leave home except for essential purposes. Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, but we will not hesitate to continue to use our enforcement powers as a last resort.  If you are visiting beauty spots within your local area, do so safely and respectfully – leaving no trace of your visit. Please also park responsibly to allow emergency access.”

As well as extensive on the ground measures, engaging campaigns will be used to encourage and support people to enjoy the National Park responsibly. Visitors will be encouraged to plan ahead and detailed information will be provided on social media and the National Park Authority’s website including car park and travel options, opening hours for toilets and other visitor facilities.

Seasonal camping management byelaws are already in effect from March to September in parts of the National Park, and camping permit areas and campsites within these areas will reopen in line with the easing of national restrictions on travel and tourism.

More information and advice for those planning a visit to the National Park once travel restrictions are lifted can be found on our Advice for Visitors page.

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