Businesses wanted to boost Galloway’s forest tourism

The new-look Kirroughtree Visitor Centre - due for completion by end of 2013.

The new-look Kirroughtree Visitor Centre - due for completion by end of 2013.

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AN appeal has gone out to entrepreneurs who can help run the new £4.5 million visitor services planned for Galloway Forest Park.

Expressions of interest are being sought by Forestry Commission to help manage the new tourism facilities which include a new visitor complex at Kirroughtree, a totally modernised centre at Clatteringshaws and an upgraded centre at Glentrool.

The whole multi-million investment is part of the Commission’s plan to grow the tourism market in the region. The new and refurbished visitor centres are all due to be up and running by the end of 2013.

The drive to pull in more visitors comes on the back of major tourism projects spearheaded by Forestry Commission Scotland, including the 7stanes mountain bike initiative and Dark Sky Park status.

Keith Muir, Forestry Commission Scotland’s tourism manager for Galloway said: “A few years ago we recorded about 800,000 visitors were coming to Galloway Forest Park. Since then, the 7stanes biking project, new walking trails and the award of Dark Sky Park status have all boosted numbers. We are currently welcoming over one million visitors a year, making it a key visitor destination which has real potential for business development.

“We are very excited about the new investment plans coming to fruition as we have been working on them in the background for a number of years.

“We are looking for enthusiastic, dynamic businesses with a good understanding of tourism to join with us and really grow this market in Galloway Forest Park.

“There are great opportunities here for local businesses and the wider tourism sector and I recommend all of them get in touch to find out more.”

Galloway Forest Park was established in 1947 and is the UK’s largest Forest Park at over 97,000 hectaress.

The commission say the area is ideally placed for more growth and there is a yet fully untapped market in the North of England, the central belt of Scotland and in Ireland.

Businesses wishing to express an interest and find out more details of the business opportunities on offer should log on www.forestry.gov.uk/website/forestry.nsf/byunique/infd-8ubctd. All interested parties should register an interest by midday on June 18.