Highland council proposes ‘aire’ camping area
Highland council proposes ‘aire’ camping area | HeraldScotland
It is a region that has long been troubled by unclean camping, careless littering, wild urination, and other abuses.
However, Highland Council is already preparing a camping area, or “aire,” in the style of the continent just north of Inverness and has urged landowners in the area to consider building the same facilities on their own property.
In France, aires are very popular and widely available locations to park and spend the night in a motorhome, trailer, or campervan.
Maxine Smith, the chairperson of the council’s tourism committee, has directed a campaign to solicit interest from landowners who could have space for aires.
The council has decided to launch an effort that it hopes will catch on throughout the area at the northbound parking lot and restroom facility off the A9 at North Kessock.
The plan is to expand what is now a pit stop at the entrance to the north Highlands to include amenities for motorhomes, camper vans, and caravans.
The debate follows what was thought to be one of the busiest staycation seasons because of COVID-19.
“While coronavirus and the rise in staycation demand in the UK have played a significant role in the enormous increase in demands placed on the Highlands of Scotland from across the UK, the evidence does show that motorhome ownership and rental have been increasing over the past few years,” she said.
“These considerations, along with the relatively low cost of tents and the widespread use of tents, all lead to the necessity for cooperative future management plans to meet tourism needs for summer seasons and the years to come. To ensure that we maximise the opportunities for tourism in the Highlands while minimising the risks to our communities, we will keep working with partners in the Scottish Government, NatureScot, VisitScotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Sepa, Scottish Water, Campa, and local organisations.
“The council is also eager in hearing from landowners who are interested in providing basic, short-term accommodations, or “aires,” as they are known on the continent. It may be that you are a farmer with a spare field or someone with an extra-large garden, but we need to start thinking more commercially and trying to alleviate any issues caused by motorhomes and camprvans, in addition to providing short overnight basic stopping facilities for people on longer journeys that bring economic benefit to local businesses from those spending the night at an aire. The Highlands are open to visitors, but we must ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to accommodate them.
In contrast to campers and motorhome owners who want to park directly next to the location they wish to use as their playground for the upcoming week or fortnight, Councillor Allan Henderson noted that aires only serve as an overnight option for individuals who are on the move.
Aires are, to a certain extent, a fantastic concept, but not for your true vacation, he remarked. People who are on vacation at the beach and wish to park there for the duration of their trip won’t benefit from it.
There are many types of aires in France, some of which are found at motorway service stations and are equipped with a shower area, power, and a location to empty and restock their water tanks. However, these have a 24-hour maximum stay limit and are frequently busy due to the constant arrival and departure of vehicles.
The most common kind of aires are sizable gravel spaces that may be reserved for up to four days, include power and toilet cleaning facilities but nothing else, and are located close to a small town.
Despite the rising popularity of motorhome and campervan travel north of the border, there aren’t many places to park a motorhome overnight in the area other than commercially run campgrounds and caravan parks.
A few of these locations are now being developed, with community-led initiatives being carried out at Lochinver, Helmsdale, Brora, Bonar Bridge, and Cromarty.
Highland council members also decided to pressure the Scottish Government to include legislation establishing a tourism tax in upcoming plans.
The Transient Visitor Levy Bill, which was scheduled to be tabled last Easter but was postponed owing to the pandemic, was not included in the current government plan, according to council members on the tourism committee.
The council members decided to request clarification from the government in a letter from Mrs. Smith, the tourism chairperson.
In order to support the hotel and tourist industries for the foreseeable future, the committee also decided to write to the UK government and request a VAT decrease that would be permanent.
Highland council proposes ‘Aire’ camping area
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