VISIT East Lothian has launched a new mobile phone app to improve the visitor experience at popular coastal beauty spots.

The Visit East Lothian App uses the latest sensor technology to provide live information from East Lothian Council’s 11 coastal car parks so that visitors can plan their journeys and see updates about the ‘busyness’ of the area.

The app’s development comes as part of East Lothian Council’s business recovery investment funding 2021-2022 and has been developed by EDINA and the IoT innovation teams at the University of Edinburgh to support tourism in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

East Lothian has, of course, some of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland, with the likes of Gullane and Yellowcraig attracting large crowds from visitors and locals alike.

This can cause stress on the local environment, facilities and services, but the new app will help to protect these fragile environments while also providing a far superior visitor experience for those looking to enjoy the best of the county coastline.

Jamie Baker, service manager, economic development, East Lothian Council, said: “With over 40 miles of stunning coastline and beaches with East Lothian Council-operated coastal car parks, there is more than enough space for people to be able to visit and enjoy our wonderful coast in a safe and responsible way.

“The app also encourages visitors to explore the wider East Lothian offer and brings benefit to businesses.

“We are delighted to be working with the team at Edinburgh University on the innovative use of sensor technology and real-time data in our destination marketing and management.”

Covid-19 resulted in the increase of ‘staycations’, putting pressure on the county’s beaches, and Countryside Ranger Roger Powell hoped that the new free app would improve the visitor experience, protect the environment and enhance the county.

He said: “Last year, we had double the amount of visitors at sensitive sites like Yellowcraig. . . do we want that many people potentially damaging the site?

“[The app] means the people have the choice to move to quieter places and gives them the opportunity to discover new areas.”

He added that while this year was a test run, if successful the app could expand beyond the coast and include more areas around the county.

The app has an easy-to-use interface that utilises a traffic light system to inform users of which areas are busy and which are not. The map screen shows all the car parks in the surrounding area, meaning visitors can explore and discover somewhere new with each visit, finding the quieter spots to make the most of their trip.

The project is at the forefront of Scotland’s Traveltech work enabling the use of technology in the tourism industry, in hospitality businesses and by visitors to maximise the travel experience.

Joshua Ryan-Saha, director of Traveltech for Scotland, said: “This project shows what data can do to help tourism in Scotland.

“Capturing and sharing live ‘busyness’ data with visitors to East Lothian’s beaches will mean that more people will be able to enjoy more of the coastline and its local businesses, more of the time, without places becoming too busy.

“This technology has the potential to help even more tourism destinations better manage their hotspots.

“It is just one of many data-driven initiatives at the University of Edinburgh, part of its commitment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which attracted £270m of government investment.”

The app is available now on the Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store and can be downloaded free. See for more details.