News

Tourism in Meltdown

Fears of a £200m hit for tourism businesses in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

Tourism in meltdown as losses grow at an alarming rate

A prolonged lockdown caused by the corona virus pandemic could see at least £200 million wiped off the value of tourism in the National Park this year with the potential loss of at least a quarter of the tourism businesses and over 1,200 redundancies according to a former tourism chief for the area and current Chairman of a leading National Park charity.

The unprecedented lockdown has resulted in tourism revenues tumbling at an alarming rate in the National Park with over £100 million in losses racked up already, including valuable advance group bookings from both UK and international markets being cancelled for the whole year, according to James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland with over 4 million visitors a year generating spend of over £420 million and sustaining thousands of jobs directly and indirectly.

He warned even if the current restrictions are lifted in time for the peak summer months tourism businesses will have a slow recovery due to factors such as essential social distancing precautions still requiring to be in force and many visitors from important UK and overseas markets being reluctant to travel until an effective virus vaccine is in place. He estimates total losses could exceed £200 million by the end of the year with many businesses struggling to survive.

Mr Fraser, who is in regular contact with a  number of businesses in the National Park, said: ’’In the 40 years I have been involved in the tourist industry I have never witnessed a situation as bad as this and it is much worse than the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 that led to the shutdown of the countryside.

‘’In the past 6 weeks it has been upsetting to see so many well run predominantly family businesses, which have been built up with hard work over many years, in such a state of turmoil and fighting for their very existence through no fault of their own.

‘’Most businesses have gone from looking forward to what was shaping up to be a bumper year with good trading levels to a situation overnight with income generation falling to zero and with no end in sight.’’

He cited numerous examples of medium sized businesses already losing, on average, £1-2 million so far. Three cruise companies operating on the National Park lochs have lost over £4 million collectively. Hundreds of smaller tourist accommodation, catering and retail businesses and businesses in the supply chain such as tradesmen, laundries, bakers and butchers are also losing substantial sums.

Mr Fraser added: ’’The response to the growing financial crisis in the tourism sector from both the UK and Scottish Governments and local MSPs and MPS has been impressive and, following representations made locally and nationally, it is very encouraging to see some of the support packages being modified for the better.

‘’However, given the sheer scale of the downturn in tourism revenues, which no Government support scheme can fully cover, many businesses have been forced to take out very substantial loans as part of their fight for survival and it will take many years for them  to recover from what has been, and continues to be, a catastrophic situation here in the National Park and elsewhere with tourism so hugely important to the economy’’

In a recent report the OECD estimate declines of 45% to 70% in the international tourism economy in 2020, depending on the duration of the crisis and the speed with which tourism rebounds.

Spring/Summer Voice Magazine - Get it Here!

Usually, by this point in the year, the Friends team are mopping their brow after a busy few weeks of distributing the latest copy of Voice magazine to members and supporters across the National Park and far beyond. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the lockdown was announced just as we took delivery of this years Spring/Summer edition and we have therefore been unable to get these delivered.

The good news is, we do have an online version for you to peruse, which as always, is packed with Park news, Friends updates and lots of lovely photos from around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs! (Please note that some of the 'diary dates' published may now be subject to change or indeed cancellation) 

The latest edition, as well as all back copies of Voice, can be found on the 'About Us' page. For ease, the link is here: 

http://www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk/the-voice

Enjoy!

May AGM Cancelled

Update on Friends Annual General Meeting scheduled for 19th May

Due to the current situation with coronavirus, we have taken the decision to cancel our AGM which had been due to take place on 19th May at Ross Priory. We are currently determining the most appropriate alternative arrangements to allow us to meet our obligations under the consitution.

Further details will follow in due course.

Volunteer Event Postponed

A message for all our volunteers:

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs have taken the decision to postpone our Make A Difference Day at Balmaha on 26th March, in line with recent government advice on social gatherings.

There are lots of worthwhile tasks for us to do there and we will be rescheduling the event as soon as it is safe and practical for us to do so - we hope you will still be able to volunteer your time to help us make a positive difference to this beautiful location.

All those who have signed up for the event will be contacted regarding the new date, as soon as possible.

In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Sunset Cruise 2020

We are delighted to share the date of our ever-popular annual Sunset Cruise!

On the evening of Wednesday 12th August, guests can once again enjoy a scenic cruise on Loch Lomond, complete with musical entertainment. Ticket prices remain at just £12.

For further information or to reserve tickets, please email: info@lochlomond trossachs.org.uk or call 01389 727761

Business Supporters

A variety of businesses in and around the National Park are already members of our Business Supporters scheme. For details on how to join, click here..

Help Us Make A Difference!

You are once again invited to Make a Difference in Scotland's first National Park!

Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs would love to welcome you, your company, friends and/or family to come along to one of our volunteer events in 2020.

Our 'Make a Difference' days are organuised to encourage everyone to come and volunteer for a day, meet new people and contribute to making the wider national park area an amazing place to experience

The schedule this year is as follows:

March 26th at Balmaha

May 21st at A82 Loch Lomond

Sept 24th at Strathyre/Loch Lubnaig

Oct 29th at Luss

For these events, we are partnering with the National Park Authority, The Oak Tree Inn, Forest Holidays and Luss Estates. Events will include activity such as cutting back overgrown vegetation and invasive non-native shrubs, litter picking/beach cleans, path and ditch clearing – all in beautiful surroundings!

At each location, a light lunch will be provided as well as any necessary tools and high vis jackets/gloves. Please wear comfortable outdoor clothing and appropriate footwear.

Please contact the Friends at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01389 727761 if you or your family/organisation would like to come along or find out more.

VOLUNTEERS TACKLE INVASIVE RHODIES AT LAUDER MONUMENT SITE

A group of 17 volunteers recently helped to make a difference at the Lauder Monument at Invernoaden in Cowal with the removal of rhododendrons and access path improvements. This was part of the latest in a series of ‘Make a Difference Days’ organised by Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation charity covering the National Park.

Since a major restoration and improvement programme at the site was completed late last year the Lauder Monument has become a popular attraction with the new small car park regularly full. However, since then the path to the Monument eroded in places, a tree fell blocking the Monument access steps and invasive rhododendrons had grown considerably, blocking light to trees and shrubs in the woodland areas lining the path.

The Friends coordinated this latest volunteer event with support from the National Park Authority. Volunteers from SEPA, the National Park Authority and the Friends travelled from quite far afield to take part in this Make a Difference Day. They were joined by some local volunteers from the Strachur area and they all spent the day working together filling dips in the main access, clearing leaves from the steps leading to the Monument, removing a fallen tree, cutting back a substantial amount of ‘rhodies’ and tidying up around the Monument itself.

John Urquhart, Vice Chair of the charity said: “This was another very successful Make a Difference Day, demonstrating what can be achieved when we work together to improve special areas within the National Park.

It was great to see a healthy number of volunteers getting involved in this latest event and pulling together to make a difference at this important historic site which has proved to be very popular following a major programme of works completed by the Friends last year in the run up to the 102nd anniversary of the death of Captain John Lauder, the son of Sir Harry Lauder, on 28th December in France during WW1.”

Anyone wishing to get involved in future Make a Difference Days or helping to maintain the Lauder Monument site can get in touch with the Friends by calling 001389 727761 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Callander Visitor Information Centre Success

Bumper visitor numbers from over twenty different countries 

The former VisitScotland Information Centre that closed in February then re-opened as a Callander community-led visitor information centre has just completed a very successful first season. More than 20,000 visitors, the majority from overseas, dropped in since it opened in May. Three local organisations collaborated to save this key asset, to provide much needed face-to-face information in the town that depends so much on tourism. Callander Community Council, Callander Community Development Trust and the Sir Walter Scott Steamship Trust from Loch Katrine all contributed funding and the centre was staffed by Loch Katrine employees as well as a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable local volunteers.

As well as providing comprehensive information services on things to see and do, where to stay and route planning, the centre was also the ideal base and box office for community-led events such as Summerfest in July and the Jazz & Blues Festival in October. Going into the winter season, the centre has closed its doors but is hoping to be open at some key periods over the winter.

Chairman of the Visitor Centre’s board, Frank Park, said: “We are very pleased with how the first season has gone both in terms of the numbers of visitors using the service and in how the partnership has worked. And of course, it would not have been possible without the invaluable contribution from our team of dedicated and skilled volunteers who gave up their time to share their experience of Callander and the surrounding area. We’re also grateful for the sterling financial and staffing support from the Steamship Trust as well as the support from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, VisitScotland and Stirling Council.”

James Fraser, Chief Executive of the Sir Walter Scott Steamship Trust, said: “The Centre provided an important showcase for Callander and the wider Trossachs area and it also played a vital role in reassuring visitors that the historic steamship was operating normally following the devastation caused by landslides at the north end of Loch Katrine in early August. It has more than justified our presence and has reinforced the great importance that visitors place in having access to knowledgeable local people to get the most out of their stay which can never be substituted by reliance on the internet.”

John Martin from Callander Jazz & Blues Festival said: "The VIC provided an excellent, centrally located ticket and information office where our wonderful Festival volunteers could give a warm welcome to hundreds of Festival goers and musicians, and also offer them a tasting of Deanston whisky from our main sponsor and a sample of local Campbell's shortbread to set them up for a lively and fun weekend!"

Volunteers open up views of the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond from the busy A82

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation charity covering Scotland’s first National Park, recently held another successful Make a Difference Day, removing stretches of the tree tunnel alongside the edge of Loch Lomond and the busy A82 as part of their ambitious Windows on the Loch initiative

The event, organised by the Friends, with support of the National Park Authority, luss Estates and Scottish Water saw some 22 volunteers rolling their sleeves up and working hard clearing trees and vegetation at key view points between Luss and Inverbeg to open up stunning views of the loch and Ben Lomond. They also cleared large quantities of litter from this stretch of the loch shoreline.

The Friends have committed to a 10 year rolling programme to ensure millions of visitors as well as local residents have the opportunity to enjoy views of the bonnie banks as they travel up and down the busy A82. Until the friends intervention this important tourist route was characterised by dense thickets and tree cover creating an unattractive 20 mile corridor between Duck Bay and Tarbet with no glimpses of Scotland’s famous loch.

John Urquhart, Vice Chairman of the Friends said: ’’This was the latest in a series of Make a Difference Days led by the Friends, and we are grateful to all the enthusiastic volunteers for their great support and hard work which is helping to ensure more people can enjoy the special scenic qualities of Loch Lomond. I was pleased we had a good cross section of volunteers from many walks of life and including staff from Scottish Water and luss estates as well as youth volunteers from the National Park volunteer scheme.’’

A further Make a Difference Day is planned for Thursday 14th November at the Lauder Memorial site at Invernoaden in Cowal in the run up to the anniversary of a major improvement scheme completed in December last year by the Friends. Anyone interested in taking part in an Autumn clean up of the path and the memorial in a stunning part of the National Park should contact Carol Lloyd at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 01389 727761