Vision: A high quality, authentic experience for visitors, with many opportunities to appreciate and enjoy the natural and cultural heritage, within an internationally-renowned landscape that compares to the best on offer around the world.
How do you encourage visitors to explore more of what the Park has to offer and ensure a consistent, world class experience across the destination? And how do you reduce the impact of visitor pressures? These are the challenges we address in our efforts to make the visitor experience of the National Park enjoyable and safe.
Tourism plays a crucial role in enhancing the economy of our rural communities. Every year more than 4 million people come here to take in the spectacular scenery, get closer to nature, and enjoy the great outdoors.
The tourism sector is continually changing and growing, and the National Park has attracted a number of private sector investments over the past year.
Our Outdoor Recreation Plan outlines commitments and intentions held by all stakeholders that will enhance outdoor recreation and access opportunities across the Park over the next five years.
Involving volunteers in the work of the National Park not only gives our volunteers an opportunity to develop an increased understanding and awareness of the National Park Authority and what we do, but also to give something back to an area they love. We have around 150 volunteers registered with half focussed on visitor engagement through their role as Volunteer Rangers, the others focussed on conservation tasks. In 2015/16, there was 14,200 volunteer hours (an increase of 25%), 99% recommended us to others, 77% found they had a wider ranger of friendships, 80% of volunteers contributed 1 day a month, 50% has been volunteers for more than two years and 80% improved their health and wellbeing.
The landscapes of the National Park provide a fantastic opportunity to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence through outdoor learning. Our work continues to focus on supporting children, young people and outreach groups to have opportunities to engage with and learn about nature. Our strong partnership with the John Muir Trust enables us to have a key role in facilitating John Muir Awards in the National Park. In 2015/16 we: engaged 2,332 children and young people, supported 73 schools throughout Scotland, supported 1300 John Muir Awards, awarded £4000 in travel grants and supported 12 outreach groups.
Our rangers provide essential patrols on land and water across the Park, providing information and assistance, ensuring visitors remained safe and behaved responsibly.
Our Ranger patrols totalled over 9,000 hours in 2015-16. Over 600 of those hours was support for educational activities and events.
Our partnership with Police Scotland continues to grow through Operation Ironworks and 460 hours of additional policing was funded in the Park, specifically aimed at addressing issues associated with antisocial behaviour. In 2015, our two special constables provided 200 hours of policing.