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Cairngorms National Park

Loch Avon and Beinn Mheadhoin, Glen Avon

Meeting

29th March, 2021

Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group - Via Video-Conference

Cairngorms Tourism Emergency Response Group
29th March 2021, 11am. 

 

1.Welcome and introductions

Present: Janet, Heather, Mark, Laurie, Alistair, Colin, Murray, Pete, Grant, Olly.

Apologies: Chris F, Chris T, Rhona, Geva

2. RESPOND

Business Support update

Local authorities are working to tie up the recently closed funds.  There will be additional available funding for the discretionary schemes, which are likely to be amended to increase the payment to existing applicants and widen the criteria for new applicants.  Details of this are likely to be announced shortly.

 

There was a discussion about varying levels of funding according to employee numbers as some local authorities are already doing.  Aberdeenshire Council are looking at doing this, as well as opening the scheme to larger employers.  Highland Council are trying to be more targeted, as employee numbers are not always a good indication of the degree of financial hardship experienced.  DMOs flagged up that there continue to be some businesses who either haven’t yet received support, but need it, or who haven’t received enough support to make a difference.  Businesses in the tourism supply chain continue to be particularly vulnerable.

 

Alistair advised that Belinda Miller will be leaving Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday.  Matt Lockley will be taking over roles on CTERG and Cairngorms Tourism Partnership and membership lists have been updated accordingly.

 

Key issues from DMOs

CBP have finished their series of sectoral re-opening workshops, involving over 100 businesses.  Confidence varied by sector with the hostel sector struggling most with likely guidelines and restrictions.  VMS re-opening workshops are still running.  Some attractions and activity providers are now starting to re-open, along with an increase in the takeaway food offerings.

 

Businesses urgently need clarity on the guidelines on re-opening, and this is expected in the next week or two.  It is expected that guidelines will be similar to those in place last summer, though industry bodies are involved in tweaking them where appropriate.

 

The Scottish Tourism Index have released their latest wave of research which shows significant demand but not as strong as last summer.  Only 5% Scots have already booked a staycation.  CBP will be running an accommodation occupancy survey shortly, but anecdotally self-catering bookings are stronger than for serviced accommodation.  Many existing future bookings are those that have been rescheduled.  CBP are hosting a webinar to discuss the Scottish Tourism Index findings on Wednesday.

 

3.RESET

The Responsible Tourism campaign that VisitScotland have developed with partners including CNPA and CBP is now up and running with the hashtag #RespectProtectEnjoy which sits well with #CairngormsTogether at a local level.  As part of the campaign, unbranded shared assets are being developed, and SOAC messaging has already been updated. These assets are available at https://assets.visitscotland.com/login.

 

4.RESTART

 

National and local visitor management groups.

The Cairngorms Managing for Visitors group met last Wednesday and is then scheduled fortnightly from 14th April.  Visitor Management Plans are largely finalised and seasonal rangers are out and about, and officially rota-ed on duty from this weekend.  The 4 permanent CNPA rangers should be in post by June as recruitment will start next week.  FLS also have their ranger team on the ground at Glenmore.  Pete noted more public concern about re-opening, particularly in Deeside, where there needs to be clear communication around road closures and additional staffing.

 

Capital Investment

Round 4 of the Rural Tourism  Infrastructure Fund is now live. The Park has been selected as one of five areas to submit a strategic plan for infrastructure and CNPA will be funded  with approximately £35k from VisitScotland; application is due in mid-April. CNPA will also be recruiting an Infrastructure Projects Officer in the next few weeks.

 

Messaging for Easter and re-opening

Upcoming CNPA communications work includes:

–          Working on ranger video on dog-walking,

–          Influencer video on responsible behaviour.

–          Paid social activity to younger visitors, campervanners and campers.  This could potentially use geo-tagging through a wider UK National Parks’ project if it fits with the existing agreed messaging.

–          Messaging on ground-nesting birds through the Capercaillie project

5.RECOVER

– Tourism Recovery Programme

VisitScotland staff are developing more detail about the programme and Chris T will give an update on this at the next meeting.  Mark has been involved in the development of this through STERG.  Significant funding is available for the programme which includes a Days Out incentive scheme and  a social tourism scheme for disadvantaged young people, carers and those on low incomes, which will work with National Parks and link to volunteering and responsible tourism.

 

– Cairngorms Green Recovery Fund

The fund was launched last week, and will open from next Monday, with initial decision by 3rd June and a 2nd round in August if necessary. Some previous applications have been redeveloped for submission and it can be used as match funding against eg. the NatureScot green recovery fund.

AOB 

There will be a new CNPA structure from 5th April. Murray will be Director of People and Place, with responsibility for visitor services, planning, rural development and tourism.  Grant will email details in the next week or so.

 

Next Meeting

Suggested date of Monday 12th April.  Heather to check availability of members before confirming.

Relevant papers will be available here shortly before the meeting.