Tourism businesses have launched a new touring route to showcase the beauty of Highland Perthshire and the Trossachs – named the Heart 200.
Inspired by the incredible success of the North Coast 500 which draws tens of thousands every year, the new trail covers 200 miles which captures the Perth and Stirling areas – the ‘heart of Scotland’.
The areas have suffered a 17% drop in visitor numbers since 2011 and it is hoped the official launch on 1 July at Loch Leven’s Larder in Kinross will help to reverse that.
Robert Cairns, director of Heart 200 and owner of the Fortingall Hotel near Aberfeldy, said: “With visitor numbers declining year on year in this region for several years now, Heart 200 has been designed to encourage tourism back into the heart of Scotland. We aim to offer visitors a unique holiday experience; a leisurely journey through the stunning heart of Scotland, giving visitors the option of staying in the area for as long as possible.
“In the development of Heart 200 we have taken every effort to consider the concerns of local residents and have amended the route accordingly.”
The Heart 200 route takes in stunning mountain scenery around Perthshire and the Trossachs
Heart 200 uses public roads, with sub-routes for walkers and cyclists. It links Scotland’s two national parks, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and The Cairngorms, and takes in historic sites such as Scone Palace and Stirling Castle as well as natural beauty.
The North Coast 500 has brought millions to the Highland economy but has been criticised for the volume of traffic it has brought to single track roads and the pressure it places on the infrastructure.
Cairns added: “Whilst a very small handful of businesses have been opposed to the idea, most businesses have been fully supportive of the Heart 200 route and its objective of reinvigorating tourism in this area which has been in steady decline for some time.”
Stephen Brannigan, head of palace and events at Scone Palace said: “We are absolutely behind Heart 200 and see it as a fantastic initiative to encourage more visitors to this stunning part of Scotland, particularly as we are just entering the busiest season of the year for tourism and for our business. The route has so much to offer and such diversity that it offers something for everyone. We are looking forward to welcoming Heart 200 participants over the coming months.”
Stephen Leckie, CEO of the Crieff Hydro family of hotels, said: “An initiative which encourages more visitors to Perthshire, Stirlingshire, The Trossachs and Highland Perthshire can only be a good thing, particularly at the start of the busiest season of the year for tourism.
“We’re delighted that Heart 200 passes through Crieff. It will ultimately bring commercial benefits not only to the hotel, but with increased visitor numbers, to all the other Crieff based tourism businesses as well.”
Murray Scott, managing director of the Angus Hotel, Blairgowrie, said: “The Heart 200 route includes many interesting and varied places which may not have previously featured on the priority list for tourists to the area. We are absolutely delighted that the route will encourage more visitors to consider Blairgowrie as a destination to stay in and explore and therefore increase spend in the town. I’m confident that visitors will not leave disappointed.”
Leader of Perth and Kinross Council, Murray Lyle, stated: “Perth and Kinross Council is delighted to support the creation of Heart 200, a new and exciting initiative which will bring a welcome and significant increase in tourist numbers and a great boost to the local economy.”