Growth in tourism on OIC agenda

The cruise ship Discovery at Hatston Pier.
(Picture: Craig Taylor)

Orkney Islands Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee will tomorrow, Tuesday, consider a report on the continued growth of the tourism industry in the county.

The report details the findings of a study carried out into the issue.

The study looked at a number of issues including the value of tourism to Orkney, the effect on the wider tourism sector of increased tourism and the potential for the establishment of a framework for stakeholders that will inform and support future tourism strategy and management decisions.

The study was joint funded by Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise with an additional contribution from Historic Environment Scotland.

Roddy Mackay is the council’s Head of planning, development and regulatory services. He said: “Orkney is a very successful visitor destination which has seen year on year growth in the economic value of tourism since 2009. There’s no doubt that the increased level of tourism in the county is presenting challenges to the industry. However, this is also a significant opportunity and I firmly believe that it is better to be challenged by success than by failure and I look forward to the debate with elected members at Tuesday’s meeting.”

Ruth Kirkpatrick, HIE’s head of business growth in Orkney, said: “Orkney’s tourism trade is vital to the economic viability of the islands and the boost provided by coach tours and cruise liners is welcome. However, it is clear that we must maximise the potential of this extra business in a way that sustains the quality of our tourism product for all visitors. This research sets out the opportunities and challenges that could arise, and suggests a way forward which will help ensure we have a strong, sustainable tourism industry for the future.”

Chairman of the Orkney Tourism Group, Gareth Crichton said: “We welcome the work that has gone into the study and are supportive of the report which has gone to committee. Orkney Tourism Group has for some time advocated a much more active visitor and general destination management framework involving all of the key public partners working alongside the local tourism industry. The study and report appear to support such an approach. Of course volume tourism presents considerable challenges alongside the opportunities for additional revenue generation, but by working together, and actively tackling the issues, we can help maintain a healthy balance within the industry while protecting and sustaining our very valuable tourism product for generations to come.”

The report and the study are available on the Council website at www.orkney.gov.uk and you can also listen online to the discussion from 10.30am on Tuesday.

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