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Meetings

Our Board and Planning Committee meetings are normally conducted in public.

All meetings are livestreamed on our YouTube channel @TheCairngorms and go live 5 minutes before the start time.

You can view the board committee’s responsibilities and terms of reference here 

Minutes of meetings can be provided in other languages, including Gaelic on request. Please contact [email protected] for a copy.

19th July, 2021

Location: Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group - Via Video-Conference

Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group 19th July 2021 MEETING NOTE Present: Janet, Murray, Pete, Mark, Jason, Chris F, Rhona Apologies: Colin, Chris T, Geva, Grant, Heather, Laurie

  1. Welcome and introductions
  • The Chair welcomed CBP’s new Destination Development Manager, Jason Martin, who started today.
  1. RESPOND:
Business Support Update HIE
  • No detailed update as Rhona, returned from leave today.
Aberdeenshire Council
  • Discretionary fund waiting for committee approval for Phase 3.
  • Supporting businesses that are re-opening, getting the confidence to open.
  • Visitor numbers are ok, could be better, still some issues of staffing shortages.
  • Some indications of moving toward ‘business as usual’ with enquires starting to return to normal.
Key issues from DMOs  CBP
  • Biggest issues facing businesses at moment is lack of staff, particularly hospitality businesses. Isolation period is causing businesses significant challenges. There are challenges for staff moving into the area due to cost and supply of accommodation: there is a need to look at long term solutions.
  • Mark attending a meeting with Kate Forbes MSP and 10 of the larger employers tomorrow. Specific asks to Government to take some leadership to find some medium and long term solutions. Hoping outcome will be a Government lead summit.
  • Reputational challenges – need to look at CNPA Consultation for NPPP4, using that mechanism to pick up on the medium to long term solutions.
VisitAberdeenshire
  • Quarterly business survey has been done with results by Thursday shared. Staffing issues weren’t picked up on as survey went live before it became an issue.
  • Sustainable tourism strategy completed with programme running seminars
  • Marketing campaigns – destination marketing Shire-specific activity in the autumn
  • Tour of Britain, Stage 8, 12 Sept, Aberdeenshire – comms meeting tomorrow, and announcements about stages are due to be made soon. Tour of Britain | Stage Eight
  1. RESET
  1. RESTART
Managing for visitors update:
  • Rangers are encountering mostly positive behaviour but the ‘hot spots’ were busy this weekend with the roads temporarily closed at Linn of Dee, Muir of Dinnet, Glen Muick
  • Substantial increase in wild campers with 319 tents being counted.
  • Variable signs installed at Glenmore and Linn of Dee, some local feedback is that the variable signs are not giving enough information
  • Behaviour is generally better than last year (esp in relation to fires), but still seeing some irresponsible behaviour.
  • Wild camping is still causing issues but better than last year, positive behavioural changes.
  • Opportunity to put a press release/blog out from Janet thanking people on what positive behaviour looks like.
  • Camper van leaflet being reprinted, Rangers find these very useful to positively engage campervan users
  • Waiting to hear from Highland Council regarding when they can put the double yellow lines on the Glenmore road.
  • Keep Scotland Beautiful – Mike Woolvin attended the meeting and is working to encourage communities who have had funding to help get them going to organised litter picking events.
Action: MF/JH to work with OD and Comms team to put together a press release, probably associated with community meetings. Working with Police Scotland
  • CNPA/FLS/Highland Council are now funding Police Scotland for additional patrols at weekends on Friday and Saturday evenings over the next 6 weeks – a press release will be put out on that soon.
  • Police Scotland were out on the ground at Glenmore at the weekend until about 10.15pm. They were very engaging with the Rangers and visitors, and saw how their presence is required – this is a good start to partnership working.
Paddleboarding
  • General issues of concerns in some parts of the Park, most acutely felt and dealt with is in Deeside.
  • Loch Kinord – Nature Scot have put in place Local Access Guidance to discourage people from using the loch until end of August (nesting season) and avoid disturbing wildlife. NS is monitoring situation so that better arrangements can be in place for next year.
  1. RECOVER
Heritage Horizons and Tourism Declares
  • CNPA have been successful with bid to NLHF for Cairngorms 2030 project bringing £50M to the Park from partner bodies. Much work to be done over the next 7 years -the project starts with a 2 year development phase and 5 years delivery phase.
  • The initial first step is the recruitment of staff, with 13 new posts to be recruited in time.
  • Tourism Declares – some consideration is being given to participating in this initiative from Tourism Declares for the destination,
  • CNPA will bring NLHF to CNP tourism partnership to discuss at a meeting in August MT/MF to discuss business involvement
Tourism Recovery Plan – EV infrastructure
  • JH/MF meeting with Janie later in the week, will have more of an update then.
North East Adventure Tourism
  • Paul McCafferty & Jennifer Craw had a positive meeting recently about NE Adventure Tourism Project. Gavin Miles (CNPA Head of Planning) and PC will follow up with Will Clarke 
  1. Any Other Updates
 Communities Meeting
  • Janet, Grant MT and PC be attending the meeting on the 29th Janet asked that any feedback from individuals is passed to her before the meeting.
Ministerial Visits
  • There will be a few Ministerial visits going to happen in the area, OD is co-coordinating that process.
 
  1. Date of next meeting
Will continue with monthly meetings -next meeting will be on Monday 16th August.

21st June, 2021

Location: Via video-conference - Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group

Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group 21 June 2021, 11am.

1.Welcome and introductions

Present: Janet (chair), Geva, Colin, Chris F, Rhona, Alistair, Heather, Murray, Pete Apologies: Mark, Laurie, Grant, Chris T  

2.RESPOND

Business Support update With the exception of the recent new Taxi Operators Fund, local authorities are largely just tying up loose ends on business grants.  Aberdeenshire Council have funds remaining from their Discretionary Fund and are seeking greater flexibility from Scottish Government to spend it on a wider challenge fund.  Janet flagged up that Perth & Kinross Council had set up a micro-fund with grants of £1k which was undersubscribed.   Rhona gave a full update on HIE’s recent work, including:
  • Work with SE, SoSE and VS on the Tourism Transition to Net Zero, with £4million allocated to the project.  Work in the HIE area will focus on existing projects already in the pipeline, including EV charging points, bike infrastructure, mountain resorts and community led tourism initiatives.
  • Urgent and longer-term work to address workforce challenges in light of recruitment difficulties post lockdown, and in light of Brexit.  Work is taking place at both a Scotland and UK level, with immigration policy key to the issue in the medium-longer term.
  Key issues from DMOs VisitAberdeenshire has a bespoke sustainable tourism programme running at the moment.  They have also been in discussions with Cairngorms Business Partnership about the VS destination marketing fund, to ensure that work is complementary and joined up.  

4.RESTART

Hospitality recruitment issues This issue will be discussed in more detail at the Economic Steering group meeting next week.  CBP are gathering data on the impacts of staffing issues, but some larges businesses have dozens of vacancies, and staff availability is affecting opening hours and capacity for many businesses.  Availability of staff accommodation is a big issue.  The Highland Economic Recovery Programme is pulling together a working group to address housing and accommodation issues.   Janet flagged up that this is a visitor experience issue, and we need to manage visitor expectations.  Visitor communications to stress the importance of planning and booking ahead for restaurants and attractions.   Managing for visitors update There is some evidence of tension on the ground between visitors and communities, and another round of community tourism meetings is planned, with provisional dates in the 3rd week of July.   There was a discussion about distribution of, and communication with, rangers.  With increased staffing from partners at key sites, some CNPA rangers will be moved from key hotspots to quieter communities where even a modest increase in visitors will be noticeable.  Pete to put Al Smith in touch with directly-elected CNPA board members as a community link.   Mountaineering Scotland are putting out a strong ‘no fires’ message, and the Ramblers Association have developed a responsible camping video.  The CBP campervan webpage is now live, and the printed leaflet is being distributed by CNPA and partner rangers.   Geva asked all partners to promote the free Ballater to Braemar bus service, which will continue to run on Sundays, and has been extended until mid-August.   Visitor Infrastructure: CNPA supported a variety of work delivered in 2020/21, including at Rothiemurchus, Linn of Dee, Loch Garten and Glenmore.  Some additional work at Glenmore to improve roadside parking has now been delayed and will take place after the summer.  The availability of contractors to deliver this sort of infrastructure work is a challenge.   Janet queried why road infrastructure is such a challenge at the moment, when there hasn’t been an increase in overall visitor numbers.  Others advised that car parking is more of an issue as visitors are more likely to travel by car than public transport at the moment, and are less likely to lift share.  Also capacity limits at attractions, and motivation to spend time in retail and other indoor facilities is reduced meaning that visitors are more likely to be at countryside sites.   CNPA and partners are taking a more strategic approach to infrastructure, and are also employing an Infrastructure Projects Officer.  Highland Council are also developing an infrastructure plan.  Murray and Colin to discuss and co-ordinate plans.   Pete advised that in terms of long distance routes, there will be an official Speyside Way Extension opening at the Newtonmore sculpture in late summer. Sustrans are holding a meeting this week to discuss improvements and extension of the Deeside Way.  

5.RECOVER

CNPA Green Recovery Fund has allocated the full available £300k in the first round of applications.  A full list of projects is available at  https://cairngorms.co.uk/303000-of-green-recovery-funding-support-awarded-to-28-local-projects/   Murray gave an update on the Climate Change and Tourism Partner Panel last week.  As a follow-up, he is looking to better link VisitScotland with our work on the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.  CNPA are also considering signing up to the Tourism Declares initiative if the Heritage Horizons project receives the NHLF funding.

6.Any Other Updates

Janet and Geva have both met with the new owners of the Spittal of Glenshee hotel site, who want to work closely with CNPA and local communities as they redevelop it.  Work to clear the site is unlikely to start before October.

7.Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday 19th July, but a written update will be circulated in the interim.  Going forward, meetings are likely to be monthly unless needed in the interim to address any specific issues.

24th May, 2021

Location: Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group - Via Video-Conference

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.

2.RESPOND

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

VisitAberdeenshire’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. VisitMoraySpeyside 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. VisitScotland Update 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.

3.RESET

Tourism data

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.  

4.RESTART

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.

5.RECOVER

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

Monday 24th May, 11am.

19th April, 2021

Location: Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group - Via Video-Conference

Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group 19th April 2021, 11am.

1.Welcome and introductions

Present: Mark, Chris T, Chris F, Alistair, Murray, Pete, Heather Apologies: Janet, Rhona, Laurie, Colin, Geva

2.RESPOND

Business Support update

Aberdeenshire and Highland Councils are making payment for the Strategic Framework funds today, with a few queries and appeals remaining outstanding. With the Discretionary Fund Highland Council have approved and paid 1141 grants and again have a few outstanding (largely those who applied for other grants and are still awaiting a decision on them). Initially all have been paid £2000 but there will shortly be a further payment to increase that to £4,000. Aberdeenshire Council are also launching phase 2 of their Discretionary Fund, with payment on a sliding scale according to number of employees, and increased eligibility guidelines to include businesses that have set up more recently.  More details at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/business-covid-19/covid-19-discretionary-business-fund/ Mark flagged up that most local authorities are approaching the phase 2 discretionary fund with the same approach as Aberdeenshire,  but Highland Council are not, and he is discussing this with them.

Key issues from DMOs

CBP are gearing up social media promotion to UK audiences, and promoting their status website to allow visit planning.  The campervan map has been drafted and is awaiting feedback from the steering group.  Pete to give feedback, particularly around appropriate imagery.  Their recent accommodation occupancy survey (attached) shows capacity across all sectors for May-July, but a stark divide between self-catering properties which tend to be more booked up than usual, and serviced accommodation which tends to be lagging behind usual booking levels. VisitAberdeenshire have been doing some paid promotion with partners since March, and are seeing good engagement.  Looking ahead to May they are looking at rebranding and Chris will give a fuller update on this at a later date.  They are currently running an occupancy survey which initially shows no sign of a ‘staycation surge’.

VisitScotland Overview

VisitScotland are coming to the end of their recovery funding programme with £50 million spent.  It’s not yet clear if additional funding will be forthcoming for those sectors particularly likely to struggle in the months ahead. Recovery marketing is underway and has been extended until around the end of May, including paid activity with TikTok to reach younger audiences.  Scotland Reconnects will be running next week to engage with international markets and stimulate demand for travel when appropriate, though continued disruption to many air routes is expected. Businesses are being encouraged to keep their listings on vs.com as up-to-date as possible.  This information feeds into i-centre teams to give them the latest information.  I-centres will be opening from 26th April, including the refurbished Aviemore centre. There was a discussion about the issues caused by demand being skewed towards countryside destinations and the pressure that causes rural hotspots, leaving town and city destinations with more of a struggle to recover.  STA are leading on a cities initiative, feeding into the tourism taskforce and VisitAberdeenshire are looking to position Aberdeen as an ‘outdoors city’ with beach and countryside access.

3.RESET

The Responsible tourism campaign is now up and running.

4.RESTART

Update on management for visitors

While some areas were fairly busy over the Easter period, there were no major issues with overcrowding, though there were some issues around fires and roadside littering, though it was noted that not all littering was caused by visitors.  This will be picked up in a Communications meeting tomorrow, and littering messages will tie into Keep Scotland Beautiful’s spring campaign. New variable messaging signs have been funded for Deeside and Glenmore though it is not yet clear who will control the messaging and how to input.  There are plans being developed for a potential trial Aviemore – Cairngorm bus service in July & August, but this will need to be well promoted to be successful. CNPA have developed an 8-minute ‘Make It Yours’ video introducing the National Park to visitor facing staff.  This will be promoted to businesses by CNPA and DMOs later this week.

Update on national MV groups

No recent updates now that the national campaign has been launched.

Re-opening with Confidence – Revised Tourism and Hospitality Guidance

There are not many changes to the guidance compared with last year, but social distancing rules continue to cause operational difficulties, particular for attractions and events.

Other relevant recent or upcoming meetings

STA leadership hustings were taking place at the same time as this meeting.  CBP are planning a ‘rural economy’ hustings in partnership with Inverness, Lochaber and Caithness Chambers of Commerce next Thursday 29th April.

5.RECOVER

Cairngorms Green Recovery Fund is open with an initial deadline of early May.  There have already been discussions about some potential tourism-related projects. More information about elements of the Tourism Recovery Programme will be available after the election.  Some projects will move fairly quickly, but others, such as the Scottish Tourism Observatory, may take a bit longer.

6.Any Other Updates

None

7.Date of next meeting

Monday 10th May, 11am.