Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has called on the Scottish Government to support the success of Orkney’s tourism sector with investment in key infrastructure.
During a Members’ Business debate marking Scottish Tourism Month, Mr McArthur outlined the significant growth in visitors and income into the county over recent years. Between 2013-2017, tourism numbers have increased by an impressive 22% to almost 340,000 people with an estimated value of nearly £50m.
Mr McArthur warned that this success could not be taken for granted and presented its own challenges. He urged Ministers to resolve the stand-off over RET and provide support for the replacement Orkney’s ageing internal ferry fleet. Mr McArthur also repeated his call for Orkney’s world class heritage sites to be backed by world class infrastructure.
Commenting after the debate, Liam said:
“Tourism is one of the few sectors that touches almost every part of the country and it is one where Orkney has been punching above its weight over recent years.
“With the natural assets we have and a lot of hard work by those involved in all aspects of the tourism sector locally, Orkney has seen visitor numbers and income increase significantly over recent years. This success has brought awards and recognition, but it also brings with it challenges.
“Everyone knows that Orkney’s reputation for quality requires the tourist experience to be managed carefully. This will involve taking pressure off key sites as well as making more of what Orkney has to offer.
“It is also needs Scottish Government to step up to the plate, not least when it comes to transport links. The long overdue introduction of RET would help Orkney remain competitive as a destination, while replacement of the ageing internal ferry fleet is not only vital for the islands they serve, but a means of encouraging visitors to explore more widely once they get here.
“Ministers also have a role to play, through Historic Environment Scotland, in helping ensure that Orkney’s world class heritage sites are supported by high quality infrastructure. Local partners, including Destination Orkney and the Council, must be closely involved but investment through HES is crucial to making this happen.
“There is good reason to believe that Orkney can continue playing to its strengths when it comes to tourism and there will be plenty of opportunities over the years ahead showcase our islands. However, we cannot be complacent about what it will take to maintain and enhance Orkney’s reputation for good quality”.