A historic north-east abbey has benefitted from a national funding scheme aimed at boosting tourism.
Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin, had received funding in the second round of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) awards.
The £80,500 went towards 34 new car and two coach parking spaces, toilets and a seating area to address parking and infrastructure issues as a result of increased visitor numbers at the abbey.
And now as part of the third round of the fund, which is administered by VisitScotland, tourist sites in rural Scotland can apply for a share of £3 million aimed at helping meet the demand of growing visitor numbers.
A total of 31 projects across 10 local authorities and two national park authorities have already been offered grants worth nearly £6m in the previous two rounds.
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On a visit to the abbey Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “While we should be proud that Scotland’s breathtaking natural scenery and rich historical sites attract so many visitors and help the local economy, we know that this success is often tempered by increased pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.
“The importance of a fund dedicated to helping deal with increasing demand can be seen by the level of interest in the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund since its creation in 2017 and the improvements it has been able to fund. That is why in September we announced that a further £3m was being made available to invest in new projects in 2020-21.
“Applications are now being invited from local authorities and national park authorities to apply individually or in partnership with their communities for a share of this pot.”
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “I am delighted that VisitScotland will again be able to assist local communities experiencing pressure points to improve their facilities through our administration of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
“It is so important that we support communities in these locations to ensure the continued growth of tourism in Scotland, as well as encouraging our visitors to explore the lesser-known areas.”