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VisitScotland’s Chief Executive was focused on Lanarkshire tourism as his annual country-wide listening tour brought him to the area.

Malcolm Roughead met with businesses, councils and attractions across North and South Lanarkshire including the John Muir Way.

The tour brought him to The Boathouse at Auchinstarry Marina in Kilsyth which sits on the long-distance route – honouring the legacy of Scottish conservationist John Muir - and acts as a stamping station for a special route “passport”.

Malcolm met with John Muir Way Partnership Chair Keith Geddes, The Boathouse owner Ryan Barrie and North Lanarkshire Council’s Head of Planning and Regeneration Pamela Humphries, to discuss plans for the recent grant the John Muir Way received from the Scottish Government and European Community LEADER 2014–2020 Programme.

The focus of the new £144,000 funding is to create new opportunities for route users and businesses to engage with the John Muir Way brand, develop new and innovative ways to help support the route’s management, and promote the route as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. The project also received £4,000 from Scottish Enterprise and £15,000 from the Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) for project management within existing staff posts.

Keith Geddes, also Chair of the CSGNT, played a key role in establishing the route which is a flagship project for the Network.

Keith commented: “Boosting the local economy has always been an important aim of the John Muir Way, supporting both existing enterprises as well as attracting inward investment and new businesses to the area.

“This funding will not only provide new opportunities for local businesses to benefit from the route, but also help us to continue to inspire visitors and locals to follow in John Muir’s footsteps and get closer to Scotland’s unique landscapes and remarkable nature.”

Ryan Barrie, owner of The Boathouse, said: "The John Muir Way has been great for us. It keeps the hotel busy with travellers, particularly Americans, who are completing the route.

"We are delighted to be a stamping station for visitors and offering them a free coffee to keep them going.

"The upcoming Year of Coasts and Waters creates a great opportunity for us at the Boathouse and we hope to welcome more locals and visitors travelling along the John Muir Way."

Malcolm Roughead said: “Our research shows that scenery and landscape remains one of the main reasons people come to Scotland, so the John Muir Way Partnership’s forthcoming activity will undoubtedly stimulate interest, and in turn visits, to some of Scotland’s most special places along the route.

“Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry and partners to develop and deliver initiatives that grow the visitor economy. We are excited to see new developments for the John Muir Way come to fruition thanks to this new funding and aim to provide support wherever we can.”

During his visit to Lanarkshire, Malcolm, who was joined by VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Jim Clarkson, also visited the New Lanark World Heritage Site, the re-development of the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, and Hamilton Racecourse and met with North Lanarkshire Council.

Visit the John Muir Way website