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Push to improve Scotland’s cycle touring offer, as country emerges from lockdown

Posted: 20th July 2020
  • Three new long distance touring routes and 15 day trips added to VisitScotland Journey Planner

Three new cycle touring routes and 15 day trips are being promoted by Sustrans Scotland and VisitScotland as part of a nationwide campaign to get people to explore Scotland by bike, as the country emerges from lockdown.

The move finds the Lochs and Glens Way (Glasgow-Inverness), Union and Forth & Clyde Canals (Edinburgh-Glasgow), and the Loch Ness 360 touring routes featuring on an interactive, online journey planner hosted by VisitScotland.

Created in partnership with Sustrans Scotland, the planner aims at encouraging visitors to the Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Stirling, Perthshire and the central belt through cycling day trips or longer challenges.

The journey planner will also feature 15 new day-trips throughout Scotland, and will be available in a German language format as part of a push by the two organisations to promote cycle tourism as a key, sustainable activity as the country re-opens to visitors.

Sustrans Deputy Chief Executive John Lauder said:

“The impact of coronavirus means that many people will be choosing to holiday in Scotland this summer.

“That’s why we have teamed up with VisitScotland for the creation of this planner, which makes it easier than ever for people to find the information they need to plan gentle leisure trips or longer adventures by bike in Scotland.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“We’re delighted to partner with Sustrans to host new routes on the VisitScotland.com journey planner and hope this helps people plan future trips by bike, particularly now tourism businesses across the country are beginning to re-open.

“The tourism industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic so we’re encouraging everyone to explore what’s on their doorstep, supporting businesses and enjoying all our beautiful country has to offer in a responsible way.

“Our own insights show that cycling is a popular activity particularly for domestic holidaymakers and day-trippers seeking a sense of wellbeing and the opportunity to take in some incredible sights along the way.

“The economic contribution of adventure tourism is vitally important too and has a key role to play as we look ahead to the recovery of Scotland’s visitor economy.”

The journey planner is part of a shake-up of the National Cycle Network (NCN) in Scotland by custodians, Sustrans, in their work to make the Network more accessible for everyone and provide a more consistent user experience.

Through their online mapping, the charity now promotes information for on-road ‘Named Routes’ best suited for an experienced, adult cycle-touring audience. These routes make use of the NCN but do not run wholly on the Network.

Sustrans say the changes, which see development of individual route identities and leisure-focussed promotional campaigns for Scotland’s key long-distance cycling routes, will also build on the country’s growing reputation as a leisure cycling destination.

Speaking about the changes, Sustrans Scotland Head of Network Development Tom Bishop said:

“By making changes in how we promote and display our routes in Scotland we will help to better promote cycle tourism in Scotland and allow people to make an informed choice when using different cycle routes on and off the Network.

“The changes to the way we map and promote cycle routes in Scotland will help manage user expectations and provide a more consistent user experience when cycling in Scotland. This will help us to build on Scotland’s huge potential as a world-class destination for cycle tourism.

“We have already seen success in our promotion of the Caledonia Way (Campbeltown-Oban-Inverness), and highlighting even more of Scotland’s best leisure cycling journeys to a worldwide audience through our partnership with VisitScotland is a key part of our plans to encourage many more people to spend their time and money along these unique and beautiful routes.”

Cycle tourism, estimated to be worth up to £345million to the Scottish Economy (Sustrans Scotland (2017) Leisure Cycle Tourism Guide), is already a key part of many rural economies throughout the country.

Along the Caledonia Way, one of Scotland’s best-known routes, figures suggests that cycle tourists each spend nearly £107 per day in towns, villages and hamlets along the west-coast route, and Sustrans say that this new, targeted approach to promotion will give more of Scotland’s communities the opportunity to capitalise on the rapid growth of green and sustainable tourism.

Frazer Coupland, CEO of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, said:

“With tourism reopening across Scotland, promotion of leisure cycling is going to play a key role in our planning for the autumn season.

“Our aim is to establish Lochaber as a world-class cycling destination and encourage more people to spend time in our beautiful area, and the Caledonia Way is absolutely integral to this.

“The route is already providing vital economic prosperity to the destinations it connects, and it fits perfectly with the sustainability and localism at the heart of our campaigns.

“We are delighted to be working with VisitScotland and Sustrans to highlight Lochaber through this innovative journey planner, and as Scotland reopens we’re looking forward to helping more of Lochaber’s businesses, residents and visitors feel the benefits of leisure cycling.”

Mark Shimidzu from Wheels Cycling Centre, Callander, added:

“Wheels Cycling Centre are delighted to see the addition of the Lochs and Glen Way route to the online journey planner.

“We already get a lot of custom from people exploring the area around Callander as part of long-distance tours or day visits, and introducing the route to a wider audience will be tremendously beneficial for our business and others in the area too.

“Especially at this testing time for everyone, getting more people on their bikes will hopefully be a beacon of light for a brighter future.”

Detailed information about the new cycling daytrips and the Lochs and Glens Way, the Union and Forth & Clyde Canals and the Loch Ness 360 routes will be available at www.visitscotland.com/cyclingroutes on the 20th July.

Changes to the labelling of some National Cycle Network sections in Scotland will also be available to view at www.sustrans.org.uk

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