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Updates for Businesses – March

A round up of the latest opportunities and information for businesses in the National Park

National Park Partnership Plan approved

Having been approved by our Board in December, our new National Park Partnership Plan 2024-29 (NPPP) was submitted to Scottish Ministers for approval. We are delighted to let you know that the Plan has now been formally approved.

We are very proud of the ambition of this Plan, which will guide our work for the next five years and beyond, and we look forward to working with partners and delivering our vision:

By 2045…

the National Park is a thriving place that is nature positive and carbon negative.

Tackling the nature and climate crises will play a key role in achieving that vision, but it is not separate to supporting the rural economy and our communities.

Working together to address these crises will provide a range of wider benefits for the National Park and its people, including more investment, business, and employment opportunities.

This Plan aims to tackle systemic issues including travel, housing and jobs so that people can live and work here for years to come.

And you can get involved in delivering this vision for your community. In these bulletins we regularly highlight funding and support opportunities that can help National Park communities thrive, and you can also email our Communities Team for further support.

Here, now, all of us.

New National Park(s)

Last year The Scottish Government committed to designating at least one new park by 2026, to join ourselves, and Cairngorms National Park.

Nominations closed at the end of last month, with five areas now in the running to be Scotland’s next National Park – the Scottish BordersGalloway, LochaberLoch Awe and Tay Forest.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said:

“The Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Parks have shown how valuable National Park status can be. Both Parks are recognised for their incredible landscapes, their outstanding natural and cultural heritage.

“National Park status has boosted their economies, supported local business and engaged communities to make the parks work for those who live and work in them”

With at least one new national park joining our family of protected landscapes, let’s take a look at the value of National Parks in Scotland.

World Gaelic Week

Last month we celebrated Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week) with a week of videos looking at Gaelic language in the National Park landscape.

From finding out about the Gaelic origins of place names with Kerry MacPhee, to our non-native Gaelic speaking staff having a go at saying a few phrases, we really enjoyed exploring and sharing this beautiful language, we hope you did too!

We will soon be consulting on our Gaelic Language Plan for the National Park, and look forward to sharing more on our Gaelic heritage with you over the coming months. Until then, we’ve compiled a Gaelic video playlist for you to enjoy and practice along with.

Tarbet update

We’re pleased to update that the improvement works at Tarbet Loch Lomond that started in January are progressing well.

The works, which are part of a £2.1m upgrade, will see the popular site improved and expanded after a masterplan was developed in collaboration with the local community and businesses.

So far, works include, the new western section of the site, which will accommodate a bus parking and motorhome service area, which has been cleared and levelled, with excavations to improve site drainage underway, and tree removal and tree protection works have been largely completed.

Also, our contractor has been connected with the Community Council, Community Development Trust and the primary school, to offer a package of community benefits alongside their work on the site, including opportunities for local employment and work experience placements.

We partially re-opened the site in time for Easter weekend, but parking, and access for coaches and motorhomes will be limited. The works are due to be complete by late summer. Our website has been updated to include Frequently Asked Questions.

Gartmore House – core paths work complete!

We are delighted to report that works have now been completed to open up the core path in Gartmore, known as Lady’s Walk. Last week, our staff completed tree, path, gate and sign installation works to ensure that the path is once more accessible and operational.

It has taken several years to get to this point. After public consultation, Lady’s Walk was included in the draft updated Core Paths Plan. The decision by our Board to adopt the Plan was then subject to a legal challenge, which we successfully defended in the Court of Session and a decision in our favour was issued in March 2022. This was then appealed, and an appeal judgement was issued in our favour in December 2022. We were then able to update the online version of the Core Paths Plan and schedule in the physical work on the path.

We hope that the re-opening of this newly designated core path will enhance the functionality and enjoyability the area’s path network for both the local community and visitors.

Visitor Management Update

With camping bylaws now in operation and our campsites due to open at the end of this month, visitor season is getting underway. Coordinating visitor management for the millions of people that visit the National Park takes a lot of work and partner support.

In preparation, we have produced our National Park Joint Response Visitor Management Plan (JRVMP) for the 2024 season, outlining how we and partners such a local authorities and Police Scotland will support safe and responsible visiting this season.

Visitor Management Groups
We have continued to develop community-based Visitor Management Groups and will be engaging with them throughout March and April to identify and address visitor management issues as they develop.

We have also organised the Pre-season webinar for stakeholders to keep them up to date on our pre-season work. This will be shared on the Visitor Management Update page.

Seasonal Communications
Every season we deliver a comprehensive range of messaging to help manage visitor management related issues. From water safety and litter, to camping and fires, we’re in the process of finalising that information to help promote responsible visiting in the National Park.  With lambing season just about underway, a key focus for us this month will be sharing ‘dos and don’ts’ with dog walkers visiting the Park this spring.

Conic Hill
Forestry and Land Scotland have now cleared fallen trees, meaning Conic Hill path has re-opened and is safe to use.  Further work will be carried out by FLS to tidy up the area so visitors should pass with care if contractors are on site.

The next planned closure for the Conic Hill Path will be from 22nd – 26th April. This mid-week closure will allow helicopters to deliver more stone to the hill for the ongoing path improvement works. The National Park Authority have no further path closures planned for this summer.

The Camping Management Byelaws came back into force on the 1st of March and apply until 30th September, meaning in some popular loch shore locations, campers are required to have a valid permit to camp.

Our informal campsites at Loch Chon, Loch Achray, and Inchcailloch opened on 28th of March.

Ranger service
We look forward to welcoming 17 new Seasonal Rangers to the National Park this month. They are about to undertake training and will go on to provide essential support to our Ranger Service this season. Their roles include providing safety information to visitors carrying out boat and land patrols, campsite management and much more!

Other news or opportunities for businesses in the National Park

Thistle Award Nominations are Live
The annual national tourism Thistle Awards are open for businesses to enter. The awards showcase the best in the tourism and hospitality sector and have a focus on the values of innovation, collaboration, and sustainable practices.

Cycle in the Park Welcome
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park continues to grow as a cycling destination with counters on the National Cycle Network showing an uplift of 12% over the previous year. The 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships and Dukes Weekender helped raise the profile, as did the way-marked gravel trails at “Gravelfoyle”. New trail markers are going in at Killin which will hopefully continue this trend.

Research shows that cycling tourists and visitors spend more time and more money in the area than your average visitors. Make sure your business is making the most of this growing market by joining the increasing number of businesses who are providing a Cycle in the Park Welcome or contact Jim Riach, Trust in the Park, Active Travel Officer / Tel 07843 842321 for further information and advice.

Accessibility and Inclusion in Tourism and Hospitality
An estimated one in five people across the UK live with a disability or impairment and contribute to a collective spending power of £249 billion per year.

56 Degree Insight, in partnership with the Sargent Group Consulting, have gained more insights into the barriers visitors face when it comes to taking holidays, what are their concerns, and how can Scotland’s tourism industry better address these concerns and show this community they are being listened to.

A detailed infographic report from the survey can be found here.

You can also access the National Park’s Accessibility Toolkit for businesses as a first step in making changes that will assist customers further and open up more opportunities for your business to welcome more visitors.

VisitScotland Quality Assurance Scheme
VisitScotland have announced that their national Quality Assurance schemes will come to an end, and they will instead focus on delivering a programme of business advice which will aim to inspire quality in the tourism industry.

The National tourist board state: ‘In an increasingly digital world, consumer behaviour and the needs of businesses have changed, particularly since the pandemic. We must adapt to this new landscape, alongside a challenging economic climate, and ensure we invest in the activities which will generate sustainable growth in the visitor economy. To do this, we’re changing the way we provide advice to businesses, moving to a digital-first approach. We remain committed to driving the visitor economy and growing its value to Scotland’.

In the News: Scottish Tourism Alliance launches its election Policy Agenda
The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has today published its latest Policy Agenda, which sets out a series of ambitious priorities ahead of the UK general election and the next Scottish Parliament election in 2026.

The Policy Agenda publication has been developed by the STA’s Policy Working Group in close consultation with its Member Council, Board members and Destination Forum (which National Park officers contribute to).

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