As Scotland’s often bracing beaches are becoming increasingly attractive for international tourists, independent environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has recognised the country’s beaches for environmental quality and seaside experience, with its 2014 Scottish Seaside Awards.
The awards come as visitor figures show that in 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland, there was an increase in the share of seaside holidays to 17% (from 14%) of all holiday trips. With Scotland set to welcome the world in 2014, the recognition for quality and exceptional experience is expected to attract visitors to the country’s stunning coastlines more than ever.
A record-breaking 61 beaches have been recognised this year for their good water quality and excellent litter, safety, and environmental management procedures. Besides the regular winners like St Andrews West Sands in Fife and Gullane Bents in East Lothian, the awardees include Dornoch Beach in the north east to Maidens Beach in South Ayrshire, which has won the award for the first time.
Announcing the awards, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, said: ‘Our natural environment is an important reason as to why people visit Scotland, which we celebrated last year during Year of Natural Scotland. Our beaches play a large part in this, and it is fantastic to see so many gain accolades through the Seaside Awards, and the work that beach managers and Keep Scotland Beautiful do in ensuring this.’
Mark Bevan, Head of Campaigns at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said, ‘Scotland’s beaches have something for everyone to enjoy – excellent environmental quality, bustling promenades, secluded bays and biodiversity rich shores, therefore, maintaining standards is vitally important.’
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: ‘Recent figures suggested an increase in seaside holidays in Scotland in 2013, so it is clear that visitors really do love to beside the seaside. This is great news for Scottish tourism and coastal communities and comes on the back of a growing trend towards seaside and rural locations following the success of the Year of Natural Scotland. In this year, when Scotland welcomes the world, it is more important than ever to have our stunning coastlines in tip top condition if we want to continue attracting visitors. I applaud the award winners and Keep Scotland Beautiful for its hard work in ensuring that our beaches offer a great day out.’
A map showing all the award-winning beaches with descriptions, directions, facilities and pictures can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/coastal. A new facility also allows people to choose the type of beach they wish to visit and an option for rating their favourite beaches, VisitScotland said in a release.