The multi-million pound investment in Galloway Forest Park’s new visitor centres has been hailed as a “great boost for the local economy” by Environment & Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse.
Forestry Commission Scotland pumped £4.5 million into the forest park’s three visitor centres - Kirroughtree, Clatteringshaws and Glentrool.
Three local businesses are supplying all the services at the centres, with two of them expanding and taking on more staff.
During a visit to Kirroughtree visitor centre on Thursday, Mr Wheelhouse said: “Galloway Forest Park is a huge area covering around 300 square miles. It is a beacon for tourists who wish to enjoy its big open countryside, amazing wildlife and first class outdoor recreation.
“Forestry Commission Scotland’s visitor centres are a major draw too and offer state of the art facilities and a focal point for people wanting to start their adventures.
“It is currently estimated that Galloway Forest Park brings in around £11 million to the local economy. With the opening of the new centres, we can expect this boost to the local economy to grow over the next few years.”
The visitor centre project is a great example of how the Commission’s work is contributing to the wider Scottish economy.
Approximately £209 million is spent each year by people visiting all of Scotland’s woodlands. The forest industries generate around £670 million to the Scottish economy and supports 31, 000 jobs.
The state of the art Kirroughtree complex, which is also the only fully Dark Sky friendly centre of its kind, is set in landscaped grounds. It boasts showers, changing rooms, bike shop and hire and a spacious modern café.
The Breakpad runs the bike shop and the café is run by Cream o’ Galloway. The Clatteringshaws centre has been totally transformed and modernised with huge glass windows with great views over the loch. Glentrool’s smaller centre has also been modernised. Galloway Lodge Preserves manage the café and refreshments at both these centres.
Keith Muir, Forestry Commission Scotland’s recreation manager in Galloway added: “Over the years we have been working hard to improve visitor facilities at Galloway Forest Park through a number of initiatives and investments.
“The new and improved visitor centres are proving very popular and we are pleased to be working hand in hand with local businesses to boost forest tourism in Galloway.”
For more information on Galloway Forest Park visit www.forestry.gov.uk/gallowayforestpark.