Tourism in the Cairngorms National Park

Tourism has been important to the Cairngorms National Park for a long time. As early as the 1700s, spa villages like Ballater grew up to provide accommodation and other services needed by people travelling to “take the waters”. In the 1800s, Queen Victoria’s love of Scotland and the Highlands also encouraged many to travel in her footsteps to the Cairngorms and in particular Royal Deeside to enjoy the fresh Highland air, the peace and the stunning scenery which first attracted the Queen.

The 1960s, 70s and 80s were a time of expansion. The planning and building of the Aviemore Centre, the growing interest in skiing and creation of 3 ski areas in the Park delivered almost year-round visitors. Aviemore and Strathspey benefited from the railway laid out in Victorian times (mid – late 1800s), but on Deeside Valley, where the railway closed in the 1960s, access became more difficult for people without a car.

More recently, climate change has led to a decrease in the number of people travelling to the Park for skiing and snowboarding, even when snow conditions are good (source: Scottish Snowsports Marketing Group). Although the Aviemore Centre declined in the late 1980's and 90s, it is has now been re-launched as the Aviemore Highland Resort following a huge amount of investment and work to bring it up-to-date and up to the standard today’s visitors expect.

The Cairngorms National Park includes the central mountain massif and the surrounding communities. Since 2003, when the Park was created, communities and tourism businesses both inside the Park and in the surrounding areas have benefited from the National Park status and high profile.