THE organisation that promotes tourism businesses on the North Coast 500 tourist trail has responded to a motorhome hire company advising customers not to take the route due to vehicles being vandalised.

A Perth-based motorhome hire company recently put an advisory note on its website telling customers to avoid the road due to feedback from customers saying tyres had been slashed, wheel trim stolen and the likes of eggs and yoghurt thrown at motorhomes.

Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire described the increasingly popular driving road that takes in some incredible parts of Scotland as a "victim of its own success" with the roads full of tourists, especially motorhomes.

The firm suggested an alternative route going Perth to Oban, up to Ullapool then back to Inverness, stating that it is now one of the more popular amongst customers.

The National:

READ MORE: Planning your Scottish staycation? Here's how to be a responsible visitor

Now, North Coast 500 Ltd (NC500), which promotes the route along with tourism businesses along its 516-mile length, has encouraged the company to provide evidence of the claims about motorhome vandalism.

In an NC500 release seen by The National, the claims of vandalism were described as "unsubstantiated" and any evidence of this behaviour has not been reported to them.

The release added that incidents like this would be flagged at weekly Visitor Management Group meetings that NC500 attends and are chaired by Highland Council. 

The release stated that the most recent Visitor Management Group meeting happened today (August 12) and was attended by both NC500 and Police Scotland. It said that stakeholders agreed that no police reports had supported the claims of vandalism.

A Police Scotland official said they were not aware of any such reports being made to the police.

Craig Mills (below), head of operations at NC500 said: “We strongly condemn any irresponsible or anti-social behaviour conducted by a minority of people on the NC500 and would urge people to report such behaviour to Police Scotland and other relevant authorities in the first instance. 

“Whether people are travelling in their own vehicle, or hiring one for their visit, we have always actively encouraged visitors to observe our advice for safe driving on country and single-track roads, overnight parking, access rights and waste disposal, which is all available on our website. If people are camping, in a campervan or have a caravan, we continue to urge people to support local businesses on the NC500. 

The National: Craig Mills is head of operations at NC500 LtdCraig Mills is head of operations at NC500 Ltd

READ MORE: How Brexit is breaking the tourism industry in the Highlands

“Our advice is that visitors should only stay overnight in designated sites and they should book in advance in order that their holiday is planned ahead. Whether people are travelling by car, bicycle, motorcycle, campervan, motorhome or foot, it is their responsibility to dispose of their waste responsibly. We encourage people to respect local communities and not to leave waste for others to find or remove.  It is their waste, their rubbish and we encourage everyone to take account of that when they visit this wonderful place.

“NC500 continues to work with our industry partners to focus on responsible and sustainable tourism, actively encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring the region by showcasing the wild, rugged and varied landscapes of the North Highlands. We urge visitors to slow down, explore away from the beaten track and focus on wellbeing experiences as part of their travels, such as walking, hiking and swimming, whilst being mindful of their environmental impact.

“Our most recent NC500 visitor survey shows that a significant number of visitors are already rescheduling their plans to visit the NC500 in 2021 and beyond. This really is a positive sign for the re-emergence of the tourism industry in the North Highlands. We look forward to welcoming back visitors from all parts of Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “The Highland Council and its partners on the Visitor Management Groups continue to welcome and support visitors to Highland and the NC500. Vandalism or damage to vehicles or any other property should be reported to police.”

Scottish Tourer Motorhome Hire told The National they would not be drawn into a debate with NC500 through the media and would happily talk to them directly about their concerns.