Highlands & Islands

New fund to promote Highlands and Islands announced

Scottish Highlands Image copyright Getty Images

A new fund to help promote the scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands and Islands has been announced.

The £5m Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), is now open for applications.

It is aimed at boosting projects which seek to benefit the area, including improving the experience of visitors.

The funding comes through the Scottish government's European Regional Development Fund programme, with match funding from other sources.

Applications can be submitted from the public, voluntary or third sectors.

'Much-needed jobs'

The fund will invest in about 10 major new projects and, as well as promoting nature and culture, it aims to create and support jobs in the area.

Job creation is cited as a key measure of success for the fund, with projects encouraged to demonstrate benefits such as creating and sustaining employment, businesses and services in the local community.

Culture and Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop, said: "Tourism is an important aspect of the Highlands and Islands economy, with many communities dependent on visitors who are attracted to the region by its beautiful landscapes, wildlife, heritage and culture.

"I am pleased to see Scottish Natural Heritage launch this fund and encourage relevant applicants from the area to come forward and apply.

"The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will target resources accordingly to more remote and rural parts of the region, supporting much-needed jobs and bringing additional economic and social benefits."

SNH chief executive Francesca Osowska said: "This new fund presents fantastic opportunities to show how investing in the environment and culture of the Highlands and Islands can bring significant economic benefits for rural communities.

"SNH has already met with over 100 prospective applicants at events across the region to discuss their project ideas.

"We're very much looking forward to hearing even more people's ideas and helping to make them happen, giving visitors an even better experience and seeing the rewards for communities in the coming years."

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