The first meeting of a new response team, held in Aviemore on Wednesday 10 October, brought together key stakeholders to address the potential impact of the current closure of the Cairngorm funicular railway, due to safety concerns.
All partners recognised the significant importance of Cairngorm to the Badenoch and Strathspey economy and agreed there was a real need to pull together to ensure its success as a year-round visitor attraction, both now and in the longer term.
Landowner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and operator CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (CML) confirmed at Wednesday’s meeting that they are actively exploring all options to deliver the best possible skier experience without the funicular, and ensure the hill is ready for business when the winter snow arrives.
A key component of the plan will be the potential to utilise snow making equipment at lower levels, making the mountainside accessible for beginners, and reducing congestion in other high traffic areas. Earlier this year, HIE supported trials of snow making technology at three of Scotland’s ski centres – Cairngorm, the Lecht and Glencoe – with generally positive results.
During the meeting, HIE and the Highland Council also committed to support local businesses that might be affected by the present situation, including offering one-to-one advice, and access to loan funding, where appropriate, through Highland Opportunity.
In addition, the response team members agreed to work together on a programme of marketing and communications. This would aim to ensure that the local community and mountain sport enthusiasts are kept informed of developments, and to promote a strong message more widely that Cairngorm and Strathspey are open for business.
Highland Council Convener and local Councillor Bill Lobban chaired the meeting, which was arranged by HIE.
“I was really impressed that everyone who attended shared a very positive attitude and a strong desire to work together to achieve a way forward at CairnGorm” – said Councillor Lobban.
“We all agree that snowsports play a vital role in the economy of Aviemore and the wider Badenoch and Strathspey area, and it is in the whole community’s interest that CairnGorm is a successful attraction.”
Ewan Kearney of Natural Retreats said:
“There is no doubt that this is going to be a challenging season, but we have operated skiing without the funicular in prior winters; and are confident that with additional planning and resource we will be able to continue to offer great skiing this winter as well.
It’s also worth highlighting the range of other activities that are still available for visitors this autumn, including our café, nature trails and forthcoming Christmas market.”
Charlotte Wright, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said:
“We’re delighted to have such strong support from the local business community and other public organisations, all of whom are committed to working in partnership for the benefit of the whole area. As well as addressing the current, urgent situation, there was also a strong appetite to look to the longer term, and work towards a shared vision for Cairngorm and Strathspey as a leading ski centre.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first of several we’ll be hosting, and it brought forward a variety of great ideas that will form the basis of an action plan for HIE and our partners to take forward over the coming weeks and months.”
The meeting included representatives from: Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust, Aviemore Business Association, Cairngorm Mountain Trust, Cairngorm Business Partnership, resort operator CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (CML), the Cairngorms National Park Authority, HIE, the Highland Council, Snowsport Scotland, and VisitScotland.Back to Latest News
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