Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed confirmation from Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) chief executive, Alex Paterson, that he will visit Orkney early next month for talks over future visitor arrangements for Maeshowe.
Mr McArthur invited Mr Paterson to Orkney for discussions with local stakeholders, following a public backlash at the decision to close the prehistoric chambered tomb last year. Serious concerns were voiced at the impact the decision would have on the important local tourism sector and Mr Patterson is due to hold talks with representatives of the sector, and others, during his visit on 9-10 February.
A formal roundtable, to be held jointly with Orkney Islands Council, is due to take place on 10 February. It will involve a wide cross section of interested parties and consider longer term plans for giving visitors to Maeshowe the best possible experience. Meanwhile, more immediate concerns about bookings and access for the upcoming tourism will be discussed at an informal meeting on 9th February with those involved in Orkney’s tourism sector.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“I welcome Mr Paterson’s agreement to take part in these meetings. Given the widespread concern caused by the closure of Maeshowe last year, it is important to ensure that there is clarity about how the needs of visitors to Orkney will be met during the upcoming tourist season.
“This, though, needs to be part of a wider discussion about how our world-class tourist attractions get world-class facilities they deserve and visitors increasingly expect.
“With Orkney’s rich archaeological heritage very much in the public spotlight at present, thanks to the BBC’s Ancient Orkney series, Mr Paterson’s visit and these discussions could not be more timely. I hope therefore that progress can be made next month.”