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#CairngormsTogether – working towards a Green Recovery

19th June 2020

Blog from Janet Hunter – Chair of Cairngorms Tourism Partnership

It is frequently noted that in an emergency, everything changes and a new dynamic appears in the search for the way forward. Someone made a comparison in a meeting recently to the collective response that emerged in NE Scotland after the floods that hit Ballater so badly in 2015.  New alliances form, innovative approaches emerge and there is new energy around to work together.

Here in the Cairngorms National Park, in the last few weeks, CNPA staff in consultation with partner organisations have produced a Green Recovery Plan that is impressive in terms of its breadth and ambition.  It is already being studied and ‘borrowed’ by protected areas managers nationally and internationally and it is good to see a Scottish National Park as a leading voice in where we go next to ensure economic recovery goes hand in hand with reducing carbon and reducing biodiversity loss.

As well as the recovery plan we have also produced a Visitor Management Plan as we prepare to welcome people back in July. Many people will be returning and hopefully new visitors will experiment with the Cairngorms as a place to spend their staycation.  We’ve worked hard to get an enhanced ranger service in place and produced advisory signage.  We are still working, very importantly, to get toilets re-opened and create a system to enable people to find up to date information about which facilities, attractions and carparks are open across the National Park.

The key to providing this welcome is to give confidence to our communities, our employees and visitors that they will all be safe. To try and ensure that happens the CNPA and the Cairngorms Business Partnership worked together to hold open discussion sessions with businesses and communities across the Park to foster collaborative approaches. I was pleased to hear first-hand from people across the Park at a number of online meetings for community councils, residents and with local councillors. There was a real recognition of the fact that all of us – residents and businesses and visitors – are all in this together. Using the feedback from these meetings we developed a Framework for promoting confidence, focussing on 4 themes:

Know the guidelines, Plan ahead, Be flexible, Be Kind

The 15 of July is the very important target date for the re-opening of our visitor economy. There is also the opportunity for shops with street or outdoor access to prepare to open from 29 June, and for people to visit some outdoor attractions nearby. New guidance has just been issued helping businesses to prepare to re-open.

At the moment the emphasis is still very much on stay local, but I’m sure everyone will welcome the possibility of meeting with family and friends again and will be looking forward to the day when we can go to pubs, restaurants and other favourite places. Until then the hashtag we have developed sums up very well the situation we are in and what we need to do – #CairngormsTogether.