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Council / Tourism infrastructure plan in the works

A STRATEGIC tourism infrastructure development plan is set to be worked on to explore future visitor needs.

Shetland Islands Council’s economic development manager Tommy Coutts said the plan “aims to identify medium to long term tourism infrastructure solutions in Shetland”.

The council is currently tendering a contract for the plan’s development.

Its tender brief said the plan is designed to “guide prioritisation of investment activity in capital projects”.

“While some projects are expected to be delivered by the council, the plan also expects to include a number of projects likely to be taken forward by community groups and local development organisations,” Coutts explained.

“The plan will focus on publicly accessible infrastructure to address area needs, such as facilities to address bottlenecks in demand – for example, the development of the new campsite at Asta, or tackle issues around visitor management such as parking, traffic management, etc.”

The campsite currently being built at Asta is being led by Scalloway Community Development Company, and it could help to fill the gap in provision after a similar facility in Lerwick closed.

The tourism plan has been financed through a grant from VisitScotland and will allow the council to potentially access funding for projects via the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).

The council has previously been successful in applying for RTIF funding for visitor infrastructure projects in Scalloway, Hoswick and Hermaness.

Meanwhile the tourism industry in Shetland is enjoying a fairly fruitful 2022 so far following the easing of Covid restrictions.

The local tourism association’s chairperson Jolene Garriock said all accommodation providers are busy at the moment – not just the hotels.

Meanwhile the council’s ferry operations manager Andrew Inkster also said there has been significant tourism traffic on inter-island ferries, such as motorhomes and caravans.

A meeting of Shetland’s external transport forum earlier this week also heard that the number of motorhomes and caravans on NorthLink’s ferries is also well up on previous years.