Lift off for Scottish ski centres03 February 2015
Scotland's ski centres are to benefit from over £5.5 million to upgrade their existing infrastructure.
Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise are providing 75 per cent of the funding with the remainder coming from the ski centres and will be used to replace and improve chair lifts and upgrade tow lifts.
Glenshee and Glencoe will be replacing existing chair lifts which will cost £2.474 million and £1.89 million respectively. The Lecht and Nevis Range will spend £456K and £707K on upgrades to their current tow lifts. Cairngorm Mountain Ltd has already upgraded its infrastructure with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Enterprise and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing, who made the announcement on a visit to Glenshee Ski Centre said:
“The snowsports sector is very important for Scotland’s rural economy and is worth an estimated £30 million per year, supporting over 600 jobs.
“Our ski centres bring many tourists to Scotland and this considerable investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, who have worked together with the centres to identify their needs, will provide the necessary support to ensure the sector’s long term viability.
“The outdoors is the number one reason why people visit Scotland and for every £1 spent on the hills an additional £4 is spent in the surrounding areas which provide vital income in many rural areas. The most recent full ski season in Scotland saw over 235,000 skier days recorded.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is investing £2.273 million; £342,000 to support the upgrade of ageing assets at the Lecht in the Eastern Cairngorms, £1.4 million for Glencoe and £531,000 for Nevis Range.
Charlotte Wright, HIE business and sector development director, said: “The ski and snow sports sector is hugely important to the Highland and Scottish economy. The sector has tremendous potential for further growth and the companies operating these centres have the ambition to pursue that potential. Our role is to help them do that for the benefit of the region’s and the country’s economy. The investment will allow the businesses to attract more visitors and offer a better experience with enhanced facilities.”
Scottish Enterprise is providing a £1.86 million grant to upgrade ski tow facilities at Glenshee in Aberdeenshire.
Mark McMullen, team leader from Scottish Enterprise said: “The snowsports sector is not only important to Scotland’s rural economy but plays directly into Scotland’s tourism strategy which boasts significant economic growth potential from activity and adventure tourism. We are pleased to be supporting this project at Glenshee as it will help further develop Scotland’s snowsports experience by opening up higher altitude snowfields and will undoubtedly help retain domestic skiers on Scotland’s slopes whilst hopefully encouraging more international snowsport enthusiasts to sample what Scotland has to offer.”
The Glencoe Ski Centre has been operated since the 1960s. Over the last five years, the company has invested in the centre and this was supported by HIE. This investment in tow infrastructure will enhance the asset for a several years. Andy Meldrum, owner of Glencoe Mountain Resort, said: “Glencoe Mountain is delighted with the support being provided by HIE to improve and upgrade ski infrastructure. As the countries oldest ski centre this much needed support will allow management over the next three years to upgrade and replace lift infrastructure to not only improve customer experience but also safeguard jobs.”
Nevis Range Development Company has owned and operated the ski centre on Aonach Mor since it was built 25 years ago. Over that time the company has grown the skiing infrastructure and developed mountain biking facilities to a world class standard. It provides the only mountain gondola system in the UK which is one of the Highlands busiest visitor attractions. As part of this project the gondola electronics and communications system will be modernised. Managing Director Marian Austin said: “It is exciting to embark on a series of improvements to the ski infrastructure. Much of it may not be visible to the public but it will enable a more efficient service and reduce downtime. In addition to upgrading the gondola controls and improving the building which houses the top station, the project will assist with the installation of lightning protection to those ski lifts which are regularly being damaged by lightning strikes. More obviously, a key ski run will be improved by a more robust bridge. The help from Highlands and Islands Enterprise will also free up resources to allow smaller projects to take place which otherwise would not have happened. These will enhance the skier experience.”
Since the Lecht Ski Company Ltd was incorporated in 1977, it has made significant investments to improve the facilities on offer. The company has also invested substantially in summer-based activities including quad biking and downhill tube runs. This project involves an upgrade to the current chairlift, tows and nursery run and will enhance the asset for a considerable number of years.
The Glenshee Ski Centre opened in December 1962, subsequent to members of the Dundee ski club setting up the Glenshee Chair Lift Company, to develop skiing in the area. Originally, development centred around one area and one lift, the Tiger/Cairnwell. Glenshee attract mainly day visitors from central Scotland or Aberdeenshire. In addition to snowsports, Glenshee like the other Scottish ski centres attracts a non-snowsports market, the majority of which occurs during the summer months. At Glenshee this is primarily through its downhill mountain bike track. Graham McCabe, managing director at Glenshee Ltd, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the work that we have been carrying out with Scottish Enterprise, which has culminated in this important investment in the lift infrastructure and will shortly commence. The new lifts will further develop Glenshee’s snowsports experience by improving access to higher altitude snowfields and will undoubtedly help retain domestic skiers on Scotland’s slopes whilst hopefully encouraging more international snowsport enthusiasts to sample what Scottish skiing has to offer. The whole process has been beneficial to our business ensuring that we focus on wider business issues and we are looking forward to a continued working relationship with Scottish Enterprise.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “Our ski centres are a huge draw to local residents, snowsport enthusiasts from around Scotland and also from further afield. This £4m investment is wonderful news and we will continue to not only tell, but show the world why Scotland is a great destination for snowsport enthusiasts.
“It’s not just about the money spent on ski passes, ski hire and tuition, people come for the snow but stay for the restaurants and accommodation, which all provides a boost to Scotland’s visitor economy. This investment will go a long way to reducing seasonality in rural areas and ensuring the economic benefits of snowsports are felt in Scotland for many years to come.”