Tourism in a small community in north east Scotland has enjoyed a huge boost since the opening of new mountain bike trails and visitor centre six months ago.
Local accommodation providers have reported a busy winter and are hoping the boost will continue through the summer season, starting with a biking festival in early May.
The trails and visitor centre, recently awarded a four star grading from VisitScotland, were developed with a £375,000 investment from The Crown Estate. Attracting tourists and generating more local economic activity is part of The Crown Estate’s long-term approach to ensuring the commercial viability of the Estate. Three full-time and two-part time jobs have been already created at the visitor centre, with more expected in peak season.
Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Director, says local businesses should take advantage of the rise of mountain biking and increased visitors to the area in a year when Scotland will play host to a series of major events in sport, music and culture.
He said: “It is extremely encouraging to hear that the mountain bike trails and visitor centre at Glenlivet are already proving so popular with visitors, despite being open for only a few months.
“What is fantastic is that the local visitor economy is also benefiting from the popularity of this Crown Estate-led new venture, with hoteliers in the Glenlivet area reporting a busier than usual winter.
“In the year when Scotland welcomes the world with a line-up of global events, including the Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup and the second Year of Homecoming, it is so important that we make our tourism offering the strongest we possibly can to ensure visitors want to return again and again.”
Businesses in Tomintoul and Glenlivet, which has a population of around 1000, are tapping into the potential to attract mountain bikers by introducing new ways to cater for their needs such as offering secure bike racks.
Martin Hutchinson runs The Richmond Arms Hotel in Tomintoul. He added: “Tourism is a key industry in the Highlands and the recent success of mountain bike trails shows it continues to make a major contribution to our local economy, with more people visiting and spending money. We want this area to be a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable experience.”
The new trails, which are owned and managed by The Crown Estate, have also attracted top talent. Inverness-based mountain bike champion, Lee Craigie, who will compete in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, has already tested the trails.
They will also be a main location for the Rock&Road bike festival which runs from Friday 9 until Sunday 11 May 2014. The new festival aims to celebrate the sport with a range of family-friendly mountain biking events.