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Glenfinnan Viaduct scenic view

Investing in Tourism

West Highland communities support tourism recovery

Funding supports returning visitor experiences

Community organisations on Highland’s West Coast are supporting the safe return of visitors to the region post lockdown by upgrading a range of local tourism facilities.

Fourteen community-led tourism venues stretching from Gairloch in Wester Ross to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, secured over £440,000 from HIE at the start of 2021 for capital projects. 

Our Community-Led Tourism Infrastructure Fund is supporting a range of projects including building adaptations, improving outdoor visitor facilities, e-bike projects, and pods in Knoydart to help with accommodation for visitors and workers.

Fairy Pools

With over 200,000 visitors a year, the Fairy Pools is a hugely popular location in Skye with local residents and tourists. To improve the experience for visitors, and to protect and manage the land, the community took 12 hectares of land into local ownership in 2017.

To reduce the danger of damage to local verges from the cars parking on the single track Glen Brittle road, Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA) created a 120 vehicle car park, which is run by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland. This year, to support the safe return of visitors to the area, MCHA is investing in additional infrastructure.

An additional path, some remedial works, marked bays, and increased signage will all help improve safety for those at the site. The group is also introducing COVID measures and advice, including touch free flushing facilities for toilets, outdoor seating, an additional parking ticket machine and COVID safety equipment and guidance.

HIE’s capital tourism fund has provided £20,000 towards the investment.

team from the community working on Kilchoan Jetty

Kilchoan jetty

The Kilchoan Jetty in the stunning Ardnamurchan peninsula attracts kayakers, dinghies, yachts and other boats enjoying the natural beauty and wildlife. It’s also used daily in the summer months by local creel fishing boats.

Within walking distance of other local businesses such as the shop, the local hotel with its bar and restaurant, a café and the Community Centre, the jetty is an integral part of attracting visitors to Kilchoan. 

After years of storm damage the jetty needed significant remedial works, and the West Ardnamurchan Community Development Company (WACDC), which owns it, has invested in repairs and installation of new moorings. Increased income from the renovations will help support the increased costs of running of the existing toilet and shower block facilities. 

HIE’s capital tourism fund has provided £40,000 towards this marine tourism investment.

Photo courtesy of Hamza Yassin

The jetty is a key asset for marine tourism, as well as having a historic role in the development of the village. Having suffered storm damage over the years it wasn’t stable and so it’s been a key project as we begin to welcome back visitors.
Davie Ferguson, Chair, West Ardnamurchan Community Development Company
Skye Ferry

Skye ferry

Carrying 35,000 passengers a year, and with over 9,000 Facebook followers and its own merchandise line, locals and visitors alike love the Skye Ferry. The ferry boat, the Glenachulish, is the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland. She takes 4-6 cars and passengers across the narrows between Glenelg and Kylerhea. As the closest point to Skye from the mainland, this has been an important access route for hundreds of years.

The uniqueness of the ferry, coupled with its location and wildlife, attracts significant numbers of passengers interested in watching local seals, dolphins, herons, otters and notably the resident sea eagles.

Just prior to lockdown, the Isle of Skye Community Interest Company opened a new visitor centre at the Glenelg slipway to house their ticket office, a cafe with teas and coffees, and a place to provide history and heritage information. To support confidence and as part of welcoming back visitors, they’re using a £9,600 capital tourism grant from HIE to invest in additional outdoor seating, signage and sanitisation equipment.

General manager Jo Crawford, said: "The outdoor seating and improved facilities funded by the HIE grant has greatly increased the number of visitors and locals being able to enjoy the café and views afforded at the Shore Station and is really having a positive effect on revenue." 

The Shore Station really has become a bit of a local ‘hub’ with visitors interacting with local people, which is really lovely to see.
Jo Crawford, General manager, Skye Ferry
accommodation chalet built in knoydart


The Knoydart peninsula is a paradise for visitors seeking an escape to the great outdoors. Only accessible by a short boat trip or on foot, around 30,000 visitors each year come to enjoy the 55,000 acres of spectacular Highland scenery. Inverie is the main settlement area and is home to over half of the 120 full time residents.

17,500 acres of the peninsula, including some property and the hydro electric scheme are owned by the Knoydart Foundation on behalf of the community. The Foundation and its subsidiary enterprises generate around £300k for the community each year, delivering green energy, accommodation services at the bunkhouse, the Community Enterprise shop specialising in ethically sourced products and local wild venison, managing buildings and providing local employment.

Accommodation is always a priority to support the visitor numbers, and to support COVID recovery the Foundation has accessed just over £84,000 to help them develop three self-contained accommodation chalets. These are being used as safe accommodation for people working on Knoydart and/or visitor accommodation according to availability.

This development helps us adapt our offering, providing flexibility and the ability to respond to the needs of visitors and locals alike.
Craig Dunn, Operations Manager, Knoydart Foundation
Glenfinnan Car Park


It’s an iconic Scottish image, from what is hailed as the world’s greatest railway journey. Whether you're onboard the Jacobite Express, or Hogwart’s Express as it is in the Harry Potter films, or watching as it steams over the 21 arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, it is an unforgettable experience.

And with visitor numbers at the National Trust for Scotland’s viewpoint hitting 2,000 people a day, half a million pounds has been invested to keep them, and the local environment, safe from harm. Funding has come from a wide range of partners, including through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, to develop the car park, road infrastructure and a footbridge.

The local community leases and runs the car park. All income from the small parking fee goes into community projects. To maximise the benefits as lockdown restrictions lift, Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO has also accessed a capital grant from HIE towards a visitor information and COVID wellbeing unit, and two new automated ticket machines.

The purchases made with the grant from HIE enabled Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO to open the new community car park on the day COVID travel restrictions were lifted.
Fiona Gibson, Secretary, Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO


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