Glencoe begins welcoming visitors as lockdown eases

The coronavirus outbreak has meant the summer season has got off to a very late start.

Glencoe is one of Scotland’s most popular beauty spots and at this time of year it is usually packed with tourists.

But due to the coronavirus outbreak, the season has got off to a very late start.

As the five-mile travel limit for leisure has been lifted and self-catering businesses have been given the green light to open again, the area is expecting a flurry of visitors this weekend.

Neil McRitchie, who owns self-catering cottages in North Ballachulish, is looking forward to tourists returning but said the local community needed to be careful.

He explained: “It’s good news but we have to be careful about what we are doing.

“For example, cleaning protocols – we’re trying to leave a few days in between guests so we have more time to do those protocols.

“We’ve got to be cautious about this. We’ve got to take the local people into consideration as well and make sure that everyone is happy.”

The National Trust for Scotland is also looking forward to visitors returning but is asking them to be responsible and to stick to health and safety guidelines.

Despite restrictions over the last few months, the charity has been faced with problems on the nature reserve and at popular spots, including An Torr.

Emily Bryce, operations manager, said: “It’s really going to be an important time over this next month that people who do come back to Glencoe behave in such a way it doesn’t endanger themselves or the local community.

“We’ve had to deal with people breaking down our fences to use the wood for firewood.

“From July 3 people can travel but facilities like our visitor centre won’t be able to reopen until later in the month.

“That means there’s going to be a time if you’re coming several hours to Glencoe, and you might need the toilet, our concern is what people might do in that situation.”

Discover Glencoe has been working on a chart of guidelines with local businesses to keep everyone safe.

Martina Preece, chair of the tourism organisation, said: “We know Covid-19 has not gone away, we know it could be brought in from outside and so that has caused a lot of concern and worry for everyone.

“Yes we want to encourage people back, it’s our livelihood, people need tourists to come in but we want to always do it in a safe manner.”

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