A multi-million-pound project has been announced to build a new discovery centre at the Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms.
The £1.9m investment, from National Lottery Heritage funding, aims to create “immersive new wildlife discovery hubs” across the park, which is located near Kincraig.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund said the project will help to boost visitor numbers and benefit the local area through work, training opportunities and increased employment.
A Highland & Islands Enterprise ‘Impact of Covid’ survey reported tourism was one of the worst-hit sectors in the region with visitor spend likely down by as much as £584m.
Caroline Clark, Scotland director at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:“This is an exciting and much-needed project which will improve the experience of visitors and support the tourism economy of the Highlands.
“This last year has been difficult for everyone in different ways and the road to recovery will be equally challenging. We are very pleased to be able to support this important project which will contribute to the recovery of the tourism economy of the Highlands and Islands.
“Supporting rural economies and the vital tourist venues and facilities in Scotland is central to the work of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and we look forward to work together with organisations and projects throughout the country as we face the future with renewed optimism.”
Construction work will see the creation of three interconnected timber-framed hub structures. The Discovery Hub being the main visitor area featuring interpretation, digital technology and interactive attractions.
The Learning Hub will offer dedicated accessible learning space and the Hilltop Hub will highlight ongoing conservation work.
David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland CEO, said, “It is tremendously exciting to be able to move forwards with our plans for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre at Highland Wildlife Park.
“With this vital support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can create a truly special, world-class experience which will play a pivotal role in inspiring more children, young people and local communities to protect and connect with nature and wildlife.
“Here in the spectacular Cairngorms National Park, the new innovative spaces in our discovery hubs will give visitors the opportunity to find out about Scotland’s wildlife heritage and how they can help with conservation initiatives including our charity’s projects to save native species like the wildcat, pond mud snail and pine hoverfly. This is an initiative that we hope the whole community will get behind.”