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Visitor Experience

Our vision: We want the National Park to be an internationally-renowned landscape where… there is a high quality, authentic experience for people from all backgrounds. There are many opportunities to enjoy recreation activities and appreciate the area’s outstanding natural and cultural heritage within an internationally-renowned landscape.

What we want to achieve:

Outcome 5: Recreation opportunities

The National Park has a wide variety of well promoted and managed outdoor recreation opportunities providing for a range of abilities and interests.

Outcome 6: Water Recreation 

There are more opportunities to enjoy water-based recreation and sporting activities across the Park’s lochs, rivers and coasts while maximising safety for all users and protecting the quality of water environments.

Outcome 7: Visitor economy

The Park’s visitor economy is thriving with more businesses and organisations working together to create a world-class destination.

Outcome 8: Visitor management 

The most popular parts of the National Park which experience pressures are managed to ensure that the quality of environment, visitor experience and community life are protected and enhanced.

Outcome 9: Health and learning 

People from a wider range of backgrounds are enjoying, valuing and helping manage the National Park. It is used more as a place for people to realise the personal health and wellbeing benefits of connecting with nature and being active in the outdoors. 

National Parks are major tourism attractions in countries around the world. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park itself attracts millions of visitors every year because of its world-renowned natural beauty, extensive outdoor recreation opportunities, its close proximity to the large population centres of central Scotland and accessibility by road and rail.

Pressures in Popular Areas

This volume of visitors presents us with both great opportunities and some significant challenges. Traditionally, the National Park’s visitor profile is predominantly high numbers of day visitors in periods of good weather.

Historically this has meant a highly seasonal, weather dependent visitor economy that creates significant visitor pressures in some of the most popular areas of the Park.

Without appropriate management these pressures have a negative effect on the experience for visitors to these popular areas. They can also affect the quality of environment, economy and community life.

Raising quality

In recent years significant progress has been made in placing Loch Lomond & The Trossachs on the world stage as a ‘must visit’ National Park. The previous National Park Partnership Plan 2012-2017, raised both the level of ambition and the quality of visitor experience in the National Park.

The visitor economy has benefited from the provision of a wider range of excellent tourism offerings and recreation opportunities, as well as the introduction of better management of areas facing pressures from significant visitor numbers. Businesses in the Park will need to keep adapting to changing expectations of both domestic and international visitors to continue to grow.

This plan aims to build on these achievements and further develop our focus on raising the level of ambition to ensure that the quality of visitor experience in the National Park is truly world class.

Achieving these outcomes will help to deliver the following national strategies:

  • Tourism Scotland 2020
  • Active Scotland Outcomes
  • National Walking and Cycling Network
  • National Walking Strategy
  • National Physical Activity Implementation Plan
  • Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning – Education Scotland
  • Marine Tourism Strategy for Scotland

Our Guiding Principles

To realise our Visitor Experience vision we recognise that:

  • There is a need to balance continuing investment in developing new recreation routes with the need to ensure the existing network is maintained to a high standard and includes a good range of opportunities for people of all abilities.
  • Some recreation routes should be developed and managed to enable more active travel journeys to and within the National Park that promote health benefits and help reduce car use.
  • The number of people visiting the National Park by car has not reduced and there is a need to provide more appealing transport alternatives which better use active travel and rail infrastructure and offer more convenient services to popular destinations.
  • The promotion of more water recreation opportunities and facilities needs to be balanced with the need to ensure improved water quality, protect important water bodies and waterside habitats, minimise conflicts between different recreation uses and a safe experience for water users.
  • The management of the National Park needs to support local business confidence to invest in providing the experiences and services that visitors and residents are looking for and to support jobs and economic growth in a way which celebrates and fits with an internationally important landscape
  • There are some parts of the Park where the number of visitors at peak times cannot be accommodated sustainably and where demand and some negative visitor behaviour will have to be managed to prevent damage to the environment and local community life and have a good visitor experience
  • Long term investment in and co-ordinated management of visitor infrastructure and facilities is required from both the public and private sector, and across a range of visitor sites and land ownerships, if a good quality experience and reduced impacts are to be achieved.
  • The proximity of the National Park to a large urban population is an opportunity to get more people active in the outdoors to improve their physical and mental health and to learn more about its natural environment. It can also help facilitate both young people and those experiencing disadvantage to be able to visit the Park.
  • There is a need to ensure long term sustainable solutions to balancing the provision and promotion of recreational infrastructure and activities, with protecting natural and cultural heritage.

How will we measure success by 2023?

Proportion of people travelling to and around the National Park by public or active transport

 Reduce proportion arriving by car from 2015/16 Visitor Survey baseline of 85%

 Reduce proportion exploring by car from 2015/16 Visitor Survey baseline of 62%

 Increase proportion exploring by foot, water and bike from the 2015/16 Visitor Survey baselines of 39%, 26% and 8% respectively

Proportion of people taking part in active recreation

 Increase from 2015/16 Visitor Survey baselines of 24% for active sport and 54% for low-level walking

Overall value of the visitor economy

 Increase from 2016 STEAM baseline of £340m by 2023

Reported public experience of the Park’s settlements and landscapes

 Increase in proportion of people reporting a good quality experience

Number of volunteers and volunteer hours

arrow-icon Increase by 20% from the 2017/18 baseline by 2023

Number of young people having an outdoor learning experience in the National Park

 At least 2500 young people per year over the Plan period

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