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Cairngorms National Park visitors happy with what they see

By Gavin Musgrove

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Early results to the latest visitor survey in the Cairngorms National Park suggest that visitors continue to rate their experience in the area very highly.

The research shows increasing satisfaction among respondents generally, with visitors rating the park 9.08 out of 10 compared with 8.87 out of 10 during the same period in 2014.

Heather Trench, the CNPA's sustainable tourism officer, said: “So far, the research carried out is very consistent with the 2014/15 data with visitor satisfaction on the increase and people saying there was very little that could be done to improve on the visitor offering here, other than some very practical suggestions such as better public transport and more public toilets.

Survey reports that Loch Morlich is one of the strath's hotspots.
Survey reports that Loch Morlich is one of the strath's hotspots.

“General sightseeing and low level walking continue to be the most popular activities among visitors and the most popular attractions are reported to be Loch Morlich and Loch an Eilein near Aviemore, the Highland Wildlife Park and Balmoral Castle in Deeside.

“Numbers of international visitors appear to be on the increase but the majority of our visitors continue to come from Scotland with self-catering accommodation still being the most popular and the number of those choosing to camp or caravan is on the rise.”

Other interesting trends emerging from the research so far include:

An increasing number of visitors are happy to consider making a donation to local access and nature projects.

More people are walking to travel within the park but fewer people are cycling.

National park status is increasingly an important reason for people coming to the area, particularly among European visitors.

Mark Tate, of the Cairngorms Business Partnership, said: “The survey confirms that businesses throughout the Park are doing a fantastic job providing our guests with memorable experiences.

"It shows that ratings for customer service are very high and it’s great to see that people are overall, very satisfied with their experience in the Cairngorms National Park.

"The growing number of international visitors confirms the trend we see in our quarterly survey of businesses in the Cairngorms – the Cairngorms Business Barometer.

“It is not a surprise that there is still work to do in relation to infrastructure such as transport, toilets, visitor information and digital connectivity.

"Businesses recognised all these as priorities for improvement in a recent survey of members that the CBP undertook in response to the Economic Action Plan Consultation.”

Pete Crane, Head of Visitor Services at the CNPA, commented: “This information provides us with confirmation that we are mostly getting it right here in the park and also highlights the areas that we need to focus more effort on.

"The latest visitor number figures, which came out a few months ago, reflect the interim results of our visitor survey with numbers continuing to rise – now at 1.92 million per year – and the economic impact of those visits is now worth £270 million, with the bulk of growth being at off-peak times of year.”

The Cairngorms National Park Authority Visitor Survey 2019-20 full report will be published next summer.

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