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Caithness News Bulletins May 2003

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The  Highlands' latest four-star visitor attraction has opened to the public for the 2003 season.

The  award  to the Dounreay Visitor Centre has been made under the Scottish Tourist Board Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Grading Scheme.

Pat  Buchanan,  vice-chairwoman of the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board, said:  "I  am  pleased  to  acknowledge the high standard and commitment to quality  of  the  Dounreay  Visitor  Centre.   Efforts such as this help to establish  Scotland  as  a  high-quality,  must-visit  destination  and are important  to  the  industry  and  the  local  economy  as  they make major contributions to both.

"Increasingly  visitors  are looking for, and seeking out, a unique quality experience.   The  Dounreay Visitor Centre has displayed the necessary high standards  to more than meet the needs of customers in terms of quality and creating a memorable experience."

The  centre  was  visited  by  approximately  6000  people last year and is popular with both local residents and tourists alike. Already this year, it has  enjoyed  pre-arranged  visits  by  early season holiday-makers through coach companies visiting the local area.

Admission  to the centre is free and guides are on hand to provide visitors with answers to any questions they may have about the site. 

Dounreay  communications  officer  Tina Wrighton said:  "I'm delighted that the  centre  continues  to  attract large numbers of visitors. The award of four  stars  is  recognition of the hard work that so many people put in to make it such a success.

"It  is  very important to UKAEA that we give the public the opportunity to find  out more about the decommissioning challenges that lie ahead of us in the  Dounreay Site Restoration Plan, and the visitor centre is an important part  of  this work. I hope this year's visitors will continue to feel they have been to a site that is open and honest about the work it does."

The visitor centre is located in the former Dounreay airfield control tower next to the licensed site. It has been a visitor centre for over 40 years, and is open seven days a week, 10am to 4pm, from May 1 until the end of October.

UKAEA recently commissioned a study of the options for a new visitor centre to comply with changes to disabled access regulations. This has resulted in UKAEA accepting an invitation from the Highland Council to become one of the partners in a new community and visitor facility being proposed by the council as part of its intended refurbishment of Thurso Town Hall. Details of this proposal will be on display at the existing visitor centre this year for visitors to comment on.

The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan was published by UKAEA in October 2000. It can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk. UKAEA is currently spending 140-150 million a year to deliver the site restoration plan, of which just under 100 million are let each year in contracts.