Users of the John Muir Way will create or secure over 300 jobs and pump almost £8 million into the East Lothian economy over five years.
A recent study estimates that more than 440,000 people will use the new long distance route will open on April 21, 2014 - which marks both the Dunbar-born naturalist’s birthday and the centenary of his death.
It is anticipated that more than 9,000 walkers and cyclists will complete the 134-mile route from Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburgh in the first year.
In the East Lothian area, the route will follow the established John Muir Way and the project has allowed some fresh investment so it can handle the extra footfall and tyres of the additional visitors.
Over 2,700 of the businesses along the route, such as cafes, pubs, bed and breakfasts, and hotels, already provide trail-related services and are set to benefit. But the route will also create new business opportunities for new services from baggage transfer, trail taxis and horse transfers, through to maps and guides.
A John Muir Way economic impact study has estimated that overall 130 jobs will be created or safeguarded in the first 12 months, rising to over 1,000 jobs over five years with £42 million of economic benefit for local businesses.
Councillor John McMillan, spokesperson for economic development and tourism at East Lothian Council, said: “The opening of the new John Muir Way will bring international attention to Dunbar and East Lothian.
“We are encouraging local businesses to take full advantage of this opportunity in a range of ways including a free conference in March aimed at helping them to capitalise on the launch of the coast-to-coast route. With this welcome prediction of an £8 million boost to our economy over the next five years, we’re certain existing businesses will flourish and look forward to seeing a number of successful new start-ups too.”
The John Muir Way is a flagship project of the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) which is being developed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). It is anticipated that there will be £3 million of direct expenditure in the first year, with this set to rise to over £25 million over five years.
Ron McCraw of SNH, explained: “One of the terrific things about the John Muir Way is that it runs through so many East Lothian communities with attractions and services. So walkers, cyclists and horse riders can stop off for a cup of tea, have lunch or stay overnight in East Lothian and along other parts of the route. This will give those using the Way more options for breaks along the way – it is a great opportunity for businesses along the route.”
Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Partnership Board, commented: “Supporting the local economy was a key part of the plans to create the John Muir Way and we are focused on supporting both existing enterprises as well as attracting inward investment and new businesses to the area.”
For further information about the John Muir Way contact firstname.lastname@example.org