19 June 2017
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, David Stewart, who has championed the cause of the North Coast 500 (NC500) and who last year tabled a motion and raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament recognising the success of this initiative, has welcomed a recent report which has shown the positive results of this initiative to date.
The route was based on an idea set up by the North Highland Initiative in 2015, to improve economic growth in the North West Highlands.
David said ,
“The impact of this initiative, has been remarkably successful.
"The boost to the local economy has been massive through an increase in tourism, with 29,000 more visitors visiting the area and a windfall of £9million being added to the regions economy.
"Of course there are shortfalls, with many locals concerned about road safety in particular and congestion on narrow single track roads which were not built for the volume of traffic they now have to carry, so we have to find a balance.
"I understand from this recent report that the volume of traffic on these narrow roads has increased by 10%”
“I first became involved in early summer last year when out visiting constituents.
"It became apparent that this whole idea was taking off in an unprecedented manner.
"I was concerned that there may not have been an awareness from those that should be looking at this issue going forward and I ascertained that although there was a small working group looking at this issue back then, Police Scotland and the founders – The North Highland Initiative – along with some others, were not around the table.
"I am satisfied now that we have all the key players in place with the HIE having an oversight role.
"This group will now have to look at infrastructure for example in relation to roads, including design and signage.
"Road safety is a key element and hopefully by working together we can all take maximum advantage out of this opportunity.
"That is why I have previously asked the Government what support it is providing to Visit Scotland and The Highland Council to encourage tourists to the Highlands and Islands, including by ensuring that the North Coast 500 route is fully maintained.”