As part of bold tourism recovery plans in the Trossachs following the devastating impact of COVID 19 on the local tourist industry, the heritage charity Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust is spearheading an initiative which will result in over £1 million being invested in visitor infrastructure improvements at Loch Katrine and in the wider Trossachs area this year.
The Steamship Trust is coordinating the delivery of the £650,000 Trossachs Visitor Management Project following the recent final approval of a £375,000 Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund grant from VisitScotland and is working in partnership with the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, Forestry & Land Scotland, the National Park Authority and Scottish Water and with the strong support of local community groups.
Most of the investment will take place at the busy visitor hubs at Trossachs Pier and Stronachlachar Pier at either end of Loch Katrine. Work is already underway at Stronachlachar with the creation of a new woodland car park and the installation of improved facilities for campervanners, walkers and cyclists. Tenders will be invited shortly for car park, toilet and path improvement works and a new mobility hub at Trossachs Pier.
Expressions of interest are now being sought for the operation the Pier Café and picnic area situated in a stunning lochside at Stronachlachar where a £100,000 package of improvements is at an advanced stage.
As part of the visitor management project Forestry & Land Scotland has recently completed work doubling the size of Ben A’an car park and the Friends are rolling out the second phase of the 40-mile Trossachs Trail refresh with more information points at key locations featuring what to see and do in the Trossachs.
In parallel with these improvements, the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust is progressing plans to restore the iconic 122-year-old Steamer which has not sailed on Loch Katrine for a couple of years due to requiring replacement boilers and other significant repairs. The SOS – Save our Steamship appeal launched last summer is well on the way to help raise £500,000 to complete the restoration works this year.
James Fraser, Chief Executive and Lead Trustee of Sir Walter Scott Steamship Trust said: “2022 is a critically important year for the future of tourism here at Loch Katrine and in the wider Trossachs area as we fight for survival along with many other businesses hard hit by the impact of Covid 19.
We earnestly hope by leading such an ambitious tourism infrastructure investment programme, which includes getting the historic Steamship back sailing, we can play an important part in the Trossachs tourism recovery effort with spin off benefits for many local businesses and communities.’’
He added: “We have received tremendous public support for the Steamship restoration funding appeal as well as strong interest from potential grant funders. We are now much more confident about reaching our ambitious aim to restore the Steamship in time for the busy summer season but we will need one final push on the fundraising front.
It is important to ensure that Steamship doesn’t deteriorate further and is back sailing as soon as possible to help manage the huge demand from visitors including coach groups, walkers and cyclists more effectively.’’
Neil Christison, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “It is great to see Loch Katrine and the surrounding area benefiting from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to improve visitor infrastructure as part of tourism recovery plans.
“Over the last three years, the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund has played an important role in improving the visitor experience, be it car parking, toilets or footpaths, as we want people to have a must visit-must return experience, so I am delighted to see this project receiving funding.
“We all need to play our part in being responsible visitors and improvement works like these are crucial to ensuring our visitor destinations remain sustainable for years to come.
“Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creates jobs, tackles depopulation and improves the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.”
For more information about the S.O.S. Save our Steamship appeal please visit www.saveoursteamship.com, or to express an interest in the Pier Café lease contact Gordon Allan, Managing Director of Loch Katrine: firstname.lastname@example.org. Discover more about the Trossachs Trail at www.trossachstrail.com