Scotland’s landscapes, wildlife and outdoor activities are consistently given as the top reasons for tourists to visit our country.


Support for Scotland's natural and cultural assets

In November 2017 the Scottish Government’s current European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme was updated to include a new fund which will support projects which create employment, economic and social benefits through promotion of the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands & Islands.  Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has been asked to lead the development of this new Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF). 

Projects which can be supported include:

  • Investment in infrastructure supporting the sustainable use of natural and cultural heritage assets
  • Digital interpretation projects and interpretive media that promote and protect natural and cultural heritage and  provide local economic and social benefits
  • Improving accessibility, interpretation and quality of sustainable development opportunities based on the region’s heritage
  • Promoting and developing the unique and distinctive natural and cultural heritage (such as Gaelic and the region's musical heritage) and resources of the region. These activities should not be generic marketing campaigns but focussed clearly on natural and/or cultural heritage to encourage new visitors and expand markets;
  • Projects to develop new products or services to groups of enterprises and sectors based on the region's natural resources, particularly for the tourism sector.

SNH, with input from other organisations, will be developing the guidance and application process for the Fund over the summer, before running a number of promotional events across the region in the autumn.   We expect to open for applications between January – March 2019.   Projects must then be delivered in the period between July 2019 and June 2022.  

Meanwhile, we will be happy to hear about, and give initial advice on, potential project ideas.

Contact: [email protected]


Sustainable tourism is one of seven growth industries in Scotland, contributing more than £4 billion to our economy each year. Managing nature and landscapes with tourism in mind ensures that visitors can easily enjoy nature while avoiding damage and disturbance to wildlife.

Watch our three-minute film to hear why tourism businesses value Scotland’s environment so much.

Tourism and Nature.


A short video highlighting the importance of the natural environment for Scotland's tourism sector.

Promoting nature tourism opportunities

Scottish Natural Heritage helps to raise awareness of where to enjoy nature and landscapes. We do this through our campaigns, website, publications, local offices and partnerships.

Our Explore for a Day leaflets suggest ideas and itineraries for tourists wanting to explore a specific area’s natural and cultural heritage.

We also promote Scotland’s National Nature Reserves (NNRs) as amazing places to visit and learn about our wildlife and landscapes.

Deer are at the heart of the tourist industry. Many visitors want to see deer roam our hills as part of their wildlife experience, while others take part in the stalking of deer. We consider both of these valuable aspects of nature-based tourism in advising on deer management.

Food and drink tourism

As part of our Scotland’s Natural Larder initiative, we’re working with Scottish tourism industry leaders to develop a wild food guide for tourism businesses. This will focus on how to make the most of seasonal, wild food and use our natural food resources to create a distinctive Scottish culinary identity.

Commissioned research

Tourism businesses can gain useful top-level insights from our research summary Valuing nature based tourism in Scotland. For example, tourist spending on nature based activities is worth nearly 40% of all tourism spending – which equates to £1.4 billion per year.

Alternatively, you can read the full research report:

Assessing the economic impacts of nature based tourism in Scotland; SNH Commissioned Report No.398

Our research identifies sustainable tourism indicators and benchmarks Scotland’s performance on sustainable tourism.