A project to improve the toilet & showering facilities at Gullane Bents is to receive funding from VisitScotland's Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).
East Lothian Council is set to receive around £147,000 (final sum to be confirmed) towards a project to provide the popular beach car park at Gullane Bents with fully accessible changing facilities, improving access to the site for all users. East Lothian Council also aims to encourage low transport access to the site, with an emphasis on cycling and public transport.
This latest funding award comes after a successful bid from East Lothian Council in Round 2 of RTIF which was awarded £240,000 towards improvements to the toilet facilities at Longniddry Bents, including the installation of a fully accessible toilet facility, visitor information and outdoor showers.
Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the RTIF was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to this increase in visitor numbers.
It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and long-term maintenance of local facilities for the benefit of communities, as well as visitors.
VisitScotland Regional Director Neil Christison said: “I am delighted that East Lothian Council has been recommended for approval for RTIF funding for this project at Gullane Bents. The stunning coastline, sandy beaches and water sport activities are an amazing draw for visitors to this part of East Lothian and it is important that we support work to improve visitor facilities and the visitor experience, particularly when the tourism, hospitality and events industries are facing such a challenging time and remain closed under the current restrictions.
“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. This funding will help the local community improve their facilities, as well as enhancing the visitor experience both for now and in the future when conditions are right and it is safe to do so.
“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. We believe this fund is helping to ensure that the tourism infrastructure for visitors meets current and future demand.”
Norman Hampshire, the council's Spokesperson for Environment, said: “This funding announcement is great news for residents and visitors to East Lothian. Gullane is one of our most popular beaches and, as it’s on the John Muir Way, is visited by many walkers and cyclists throughout the year. Having fully accessible toilet, washing and changing facilities at the car park will be a really valuable resource to visitors of all ages and abilities.”
Round three was open for applications from local authorities and National Park authorities, in partnership with their communities, and is aimed at funding infrastructure improvements such as parking, campervan facilities - including disposal points - viewpoints and toilet provision.
A total of 66 expressions of interest were initially made when round three funding was announced in January. Of these, 36 applications were submitted - one was subsequently withdrawn – and 13 of these recommended for funding approval.