PUBLIC toilets, visitor wardens and information maps have been welcomed in two lochside villages as efforts to reignite local tourism after lockdown continue.

The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs conservation charity launched the initiative this week in Arrochar and Tarbet, as preparations for what is expected to be a busy summer period take shape.

The plight of the popular tourist villages has been highlighted regularly during the past year with the area suffering from the double blow of extensive A83 road closures due to landslides at the nearby Rest and Be Thankful, and the devastating impact of Covid-19 restrictions which decimated the local tourist industry.

Earlier this year a working group of local tourism businesses, including the Friends, the Arrochar and Tarbet Community Development Trust, Luss Estates and the National Park Authority came together to develop a fightback plan for the villages with a series of priority actions identified.

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Temporary toilets have now been installed at Arrochar car park, with additional toilets planned for the start of the Cobbler mountain path. Other measures include the employment of three seasonal visitor wardens, and the design, production and installation of information and orientation panels at key locations such as bus stops, the railway station and other busy tourist outlets in the area.

At a launch event on Monday MSP Jackie Baillie said: “It is refreshing to see what can be achieved by adopting a determined and positive attitude in times of adversity.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Visitor welcome wardens being briefed beside new temporary toilets in the shadow of the Arrochar AlpsVisitor welcome wardens being briefed beside new temporary toilets in the shadow of the Arrochar Alps

“The provision of much needed toilets and information map panels backed up by three locally recruited visitor services wardens - Robert McEwan, Walter Dey and Martin Semple - should ensure the area caters more effectively for the needs of visitors as we ease out of lockdown restrictions and with a rapid increase in the number of people who simply want to enjoy the great outdoors in the Arrochar and Tarbet area.’’

Friends trustee and chair of the local development trust Duncan MacLachlan, said: “It has been a busy period preparing for the launch of this visitor welcome initiative but it marks the start of what will hopefully be a productive period of regeneration in both villages as we begin the long journey on the road to recovery after some unprecedented events outwith our control."

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Jane Ireland of local business group Destination Arrochar Alps added: “This has been an exciting period with a real focus on making a difference in a remarkably short timescale.

“All the hard work has paid off with tangible improvements on the ground which will improve the overall quality of visitor welcome we are able to provide this summer.

“I am confident we can build further on this as we try to position the area as one of Scotland’s top tourist destinations.’’

James Fraser, chair of the Friends said: “We were delighted to pull together funding for this initiative and the response from the local community to getting their sleeves rolled up and helping to deliver improvements in the villages has been great to see.”