31st May 2021
As part of a bold initiative to try and turn around the fortunes of the lochside villages of Arrochar and Tarbet a new visitor welcome initiative was launched (today) by local MSP Jackie Baillie and villagers. This includes the deployment of Village Visitor Wardens, the opening of temporary public toilets and the roll out of information maps at dozens of sites throughout the villages.
The plight of the popular tourist villages of Arrochar and Tarbet has been highlighted regularly during the past year with them suffering from the double blow of extensive A83 road closures due to landslides at the nearby Rest and Be Thankful and the devasting impact of COVID 19 lockdowns which decimated the local tourist industry.
Earlier this year a working group of local tourism businesses, the local Development Trust, the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, Luss Estates and the National Park came together to develop a fightback plan for the villages with a series of priority actions identified including some quick win actions for delivery in time for this summer season.
With funding support from the NatureScot Better Places Green Recovery grants scheme, the Hannah Stirling Loch Lomond Trust and the Friends of OUR park visitor giving scheme it has been possible for the local Tourism Action Group to work swiftly to deliver a package of early action improvements for the May holiday weekend.
This includes the provision of temporary toilets at Arrochar Car Park with the permission of car park owners Luss Estates. They are due to be augmented with additional toilets shortly at the start of the popular Cobbler mountain path. Other measures include the employment of three seasonal Visitor Wardens to provide a range of services to help visitors and improve the appearance of the village; and the design, production and installation of information and orientation map panels at key locations such as bus stops, the railway station and other busy tourist outlets in the area.
At the launch event local MSP Jackie Baillie said:’’ I am really impressed with what has been achieved by a small band of local volunteers working in close partnership with the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs in such a short time. It is refreshing to see what can be achieved by adopting a determined and positive attitude in times of adversity.
The provision of much needed toilets and information map panels backed up by three locally recruited Visitor Services Wardens- Robert McEwan, Walter Dey and Martin Semple- should ensure the area caters more effectively for the needs of visitors as we ease out of lockdown restrictions and with a rapid increase in the number of people who simply want to enjoy the great outdoors in the Arrochar & Tarbet area.’’
Friends Trustee and Chair of the local Development Trust Duncan Macglachlan said:’’ It has been a busy period preparing for the launch of this visitor welcome initiative but it marks the start of what will hopefully be a productive period of regeneration in both villages as we begin the long journey on the road to recovery after some unprecedented events outwith our control.
I am grateful to local businesses and colleagues at the conservation charity, Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and Luss Estates who have really stepped up to the plate in our time of need.’’
Jane Ireland of local business group Destination Arrochar Alps added:’’ This has been an exciting period with a real focus on making a difference in a remarkably short timescale and all the hard work has paid off with tangible improvements on the ground which will improve the overall quality of visitor welcome we are able to provide this summer. I am confident we can build further on this as we try to position the area as one of Scotland’s top tourist destinations.’’
James Fraser, Chair of the Friends: ‘’ We were delighted to pull together funding for this visitor welcome initiative and the response from the local community to getting their sleeves rolled up and helping to deliver improvements in the villages has been great to see. It demonstrates what can be achieved quickly with the right encouragement and pump priming financial support.’’