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Almost a year to the day since it reopened following a £2.4 million refurbishment by Forestry Commission Scotland, The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre at Aberfoyle has been awarded five-star status as part of VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme.
Perched high on a hill off The Duke’s Pass - the road from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine - The Lodge offers some of the most spectacular views of the area’s iconic scenery. The unusual building was gifted to the Forestry Commission by charitable organisation The Carnegie Trust in 1960.
Today, the impressive, fully modernised Lodge Forest Visitor Centre provides a perfect base from which to enjoy the stunning panoramic views, stroll to the waterfall, visit the Red Squirrel Hide or swing through the trees with Go Ape.
There's also a comfortable café to relax in offering delicious light meals, snacks, home baking, ice cream and drinks, and the well-stocked shop is packed full of Scottish goodies, clothing and souvenirs. The Lodge also provides all the information you need to explore the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and surrounding area and there is a full year-long programme of events and activities for all ages on nature and wildlife.
VisitScotland’s five star rating is in recognition of the exceptional standard of visitor experience offered at the centre, placing it on a par with some of Scotland’s most renowned international attractions including the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the Glasgow Science Centre.
Mairi Buchanan of Forestry Commission Scotland said:
“This is excellent news and a brilliant accolade to everyone involved in our project to modernise and upgrade the centre and the surrounding grounds.
“We set out from the start to produce a top class destination that would be able to hold its own in a very competitive market and The Lodge is now the focal point for tourists and visitors looking to explore Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and the wider area.
“Getting this five star accreditation so quickly since our reopening is a mark of how much we’ve achieved, and – with just over 150 5-star attractions across Scotland – puts us in amongst some very select company.
“We will wear this badge with pride and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone along to find out for themselves what we’ve accomplished.”
VisitScotland Chairman Mike Cantlay, said:
“Since it originally opened in 1960, The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre has acted as a hub for visitors, but following its fantastic refurbishment it is now a major tourism asset for The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and a thriving, first-class attraction in what is undoubtedly one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
“The wide range of outstanding facilities and services which the centre is now offering to visitors to the area, and indeed to people from the local community, is second to none and the team at the centre deserve congratulations on their achievement.
“Winning our top visitor attraction rating during such an important year for tourism in Scotland is especially important. Our Quality Assurance Scheme is a recognised, trusted indication of the superb standards and warm welcome visitors can expect to receive so the award will help the centre attract even more in the future.”
VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme currently boasts over 6,000 participants. 94% of participants in the scheme, which has been used as an example of best practice in countries all over the world, including Sweden and Namibia, have made an investment in their business in the last two years totalling around £70 million.
Notes to Editors
• Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
• For news, events and recreation information log on to
www.facebook.com/enjoyscotlandsforests For Twitter: www.twitter.com/fcscotlandnews
• Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
• VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland. The organisation has three key roles:
1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone
and ensure the industry continues to grow.
• 2014 is the year Scotland welcomes the world, when it hosts the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and more than 900 Homecoming events throughout the country.For more information on Homecoming Scotland 2014, go to www.visitscotland.com
• For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Officer, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590