Cairngorms Tourism Partnership
10th May, 2021
Location: Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group - Via Video-Conference
Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group
10th May 2021, 11am.
1.Welcome and introductions
Present: Janet Hunter (chair), Heather Trench, Mark Tate, Chris Foy (until 11:30), Chris Taylor, Laurie Piper, Alistair Reid, Colin Simpson, Murray Ferguson, Pete Crane, Grant Moir (from 11:10).
Apologies: Rhona Fraser, Geva Blackett.
Business Support update
Aberdeenshire & Highland Councils are largely tying up loose ends on the Covid-19 business support funds, with Strategic Framework grants paid unless under appeal. A second round of Discretionary Fund payments will be made shortly. Aberdeenshire Council have targeted funding according to employee numbers, and Highland Council are considering a similar approach with the last of their Discretionary Fund.
Mark advised that while most (not all) businesses had now received some support, in some cases it was very low compared with the level of hardship experienced. In particular, there has been a lack of support for businesses such as DMCs dealing with inbound tourism, and there was some lobbying at a national level to provide support for these businesses.
Key issues from DMOs
’s board have approved their operating plan for the year with a focus on short-term domestic marketing, longer-term travel trade and business event promotion, and a roll-out of the business recovery programme. They will also be launching a rebranded identity at the end of May.
There is a lot of work happening on the North-East Adventure Tourism Project, as well as work to promote and sign key road cycling climbs, including within the National Park. It was agreed that there would be a discussion about the Adventure Tourism Project and cycling more generally at the next meeting of the Cairngorms Tourism Partnership in June. Chris and/or Alistair to share a route map for the Tour of Britain
in the Autumn.
are currently dealing with issues arising from the local increase in Covid-19 cases, and the potential for a local lockdown if the situation doesn’t improve. They will be putting out a survey shortly to assess business damage and cancellations as a result of the outbreak. Chris F advised that VisitAberdeenshire are happy to share consumer research from last year as Aberdeen came out of local lockdown. Alistair flagged that there were discussions about potential future grant support for businesses affected by local lockdowns, but nothing yet confirmed. It was recognised that any lockdown would have an impact across borders, and would complicate National Park messaging if not all local authority areas are in the same tier.
Cairngorms Business Partnership
confirmed that they have received grant support of £350k over 3 years from HIE, covering their work across the National Park. The funding will pay for the employment of a Destination Development Manager, and a part-time Events Officer, as well as core funding to replace lost commercial revenue as a result of the pandemic.
The #RespectProtectEnjoy campaign is continuing to run until the end of the month, and a UK staycation campaign is also live at the moment. They are developing content around some of the relatively quieter areas of Scotland, including for example, the Badenoch area.
The Scotland Reconnects event ran online again in late April with over 350 buyers from 26 countries. Feedback from those who were involved with the event is very welcome. Announcements with further information about the various Tourism Recovery Schemes are expected in the near future.
VisitScotland have been trialling the use of a ‘digivan’ vehicle with an electronic screen displaying positive messages about responsible behaviour in both National Parks. The van was in Aviemore at the weekend. If anyone has any feedback about it, please pass to Chris T.
Heather circulated draft STEAM figures with initial results of visitor numbers and spend in 2020. STEAM is an economic model that tracks visitors largely based on spend, so the initial data has not captured well the number of no-spend visitors to the countryside that we saw last year. Heather is gathering additional data from path counters etc. to feed into the model before final figures are confirmed. Any feedback welcome.
Mark circulated Business Barometer Q1 data. While clearly Q1 was during lockdown and very challenging for business, future confidence levels are high, and the impact of the National Park brand in attracting first-time visitors was at an all-time high. CBP have also just run a May occupancy survey. Full analysis of the data has not yet been done, but bookings do appear to have been picking up, though there remains a divide between non-serviced accommodation with business levels above average and serviced accommodation bookings tending to be below average.
Re-opening with Confidence – business issues
As business start to re-open, social-distancing requirements continue to impair profitability. Staffing issues are also proving to be a problem for many businesses, with local tourism staff pivoting to other industries during the pandemic.
Managing for visitors
The unseasonal weather last week meant that visitor numbers were not as high as expected. Littering is an ongoing problem, although it was stressed that this was not particularly a visitor-specific issue. Colin advised that Highland Council are starting to roll-out larger waste bins at key visitor sites, and their new seasonal rangers are just starting work. CNPA have also appointed 4 full-time rangers, all of whom are very experienced.
In terms of national work, Grant advised that the Infrastructure and Investment sub-group met last week, and will feed into a full meeting of the national Managing for Visitors Group early next month. Looking ahead to the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, visitor investment plans were submitted last week outlining infrastructure priorities for key areas. CNPA are discussing plans for the capital allocation of their budget this year, and are also planning to employ an infrastructure officer shortly to work on these projects.
On campervan provision, the application at Cairngorm Mountain will go to Planning Committee on Friday, and 4 other applications are in the system with other informal discussions ongoing. CNPA hope to simplify the information available for those looking to progress an application.
There was concern about the untidiness of infrastructure such as parking cones, barriers and road signs in the Glenmore area. This is the responsibility of Highland Council and Forestry & Land Scotland, and Grant will chase for a resolution to this.
Cairngorms Green Recovery Fund
has just closed to applications, and these are currently being assessed. It was noted that a number of applications were around community litter picking projects.
6.Any Other Updates
CNPA have discussed with Europarc a delay to the reapplication for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas to better fit with the development of the National Park Partnership Plan. It looks likely that the delay will be accepted with re-application due in December 2022.
7.Date of next meeting