HOPES to increase the amount of bike tourism in Moray saw the head of a national cycling body come to the area yesterday.
The director of Sustrans, John Lauder, was invited by MSP Richard Lochhead, in order to meet representatives of local cycling groups.
Mr Lochhead chaired the meeting which discussed both the potential to grow local cycle tourism and ways to encourage Moray people to be more active.
Organisations represented at the meeting included Outfit Moray, Moray Speyside Cycling, Moray Wheelers, Moray Council, Ride the North, HITRANS, and Lossiemouth Community Development Trust, which is currently putting together a proposal for a new cycle path between Lossiemouth and Hopeman.
Speaking after the meeting, Richard Lochhead MSP said: "Recreational cycling is growing in popularity every year, and in fact more people in Scotland are getting out on their bikes than ever before.
"Cycle tourism is a booming industry and there’s huge potential for Moray to become one of the top cycling destinations in the UK with the support of public sector agencies, Sustrans and other community groups.
"We have many great local cycling groups in Moray who share my ambition for our area to be a must-visit destination for cycling tourists and it was great for representatives of some of those groups to have the chance to meet with Sustrans and to talk about how we can really maximise Moray’s potential.
"One of the proposals that we talked about was the work being done by the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust to put together plans for a cycle path between Lossie and Hopeman, which would be a welcome addition to local cycling infrastructure.
"As well grasping the opportunity to attract visitors to Moray, everyone was very keen to ensure that agencies do all they can to encourage folk to give up the car and to use their bike to get to work, which will bring about huge health and environmental benefits.
"Good quality, well connected cycle paths are vital to delivering on that ambition and this is certainly something I will be following up on with Sustrans, the Moray Council and Transport Scotland."