Highlands & Islands

£27m vision unveiled to 'unleash' potential at Cairngorms

CairnGorm Mountain resort Image copyright CairnGorm Mountain
Image caption The new study suggests the resort is not achieving its full visitor potential

A new study has set out proposals to "unleash" the "unlocked potential" for snowsports in the Cairngorms.

The vision includes the construction of two new chairlifts capable of carrying thousands of people to the slopes.

The proposals would require an investment of up to £27m phased over five to 10 years.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has acknowledged that it can be "challenging" to secure such large-scale investment.

The report comes amid fears that the mountain's funicular railway could be out of action for the whole of this upcoming ski season.

The railway, which usually carries large volumes of snowsports enthusiasts, has been closed due to problems with the structure supporting the tracks.

HIE, which owns CairnGorm Mountain and the funicular near Aviemore, commissioned the report from US consultancy SE Group.

The report said there was "immense unlocked potential at Cairngorm that can be unleashed with targeted, strategic investments".

It suggested a series of measures aimed at increasing annual winter visitor numbers to 150,000.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The funicular railway forms part of the vision

These included constructing two new chairlifts out of the Coire Cas base area, one with the capacity to transport 3,200 people per hour (pph) and a second which could handle 3,000 pph.

The report says the funicular is "unique" to the Cairngorms and recommends that it should continue to be enhanced.

It says that following the construction of new lifts, operators should consider tailoring the use of the funicular - for example, for non-skiing visitors and ski school customers.

To boost the resort's appeal and revenue during summer months, consultants have recommended the creation of a mountain coaster ride, a zipline tour and a lift-served mountain biking experience.

'Challenging' obstacle

Charlotte Wright, HIE chief executive, said: "We are extremely grateful to all those who took part in this study. It is an excellent piece of work that presents a long-term vision for Cairngorm, which will be used to prioritise future investment.

"Clearly £27m, even over 10 years, is a large investment for a single resort, and funding is often the most challenging of all obstacles.

"However, the report certainly gives us all something to work towards."

She added: "We are determined that the vision for Cairngorm is a joint vision and that work towards achieving that vision is carried out jointly.

"To that end, an important aspect to all of this will be engagement with local business and community groups, politicians, public bodies and other stakeholders."

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