New tourism body is ‘step change’ for Orkney

A partnership body has been created to boost tourism in Orkney over the next seven years.

The recent Islands Visitor Survey showed that Orkney welcomed more than 170,000 visitors last year, not counting the many more cruise liner passengers who also spent time in the islands.

Visitors to Orkney contribute about £50 million to the local economy.

Historically, tourism in Orkney has been co-ordinated by an Area Tourism Partnership.

Last year, partnership members agreed last year to change what was principally a consultative and information-sharing group into a “more dynamic and integrated body”.

Called Destination Orkney, the new body has the former Orkney Tourism Group (OTG) at its core.

Principal partners in the new body include Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Destination Orkney.

The new chief executive is Kate Lewington, whose post is being jointly funded by Destination Orkney, Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and LEADER.

Gareth Crichton, Destination Orkney’s chair, said: “The creation of this new body marks a step change for Orkney’s tourism sector, and it is great to see so many organisations coming together for the good of the partnership, and the islands.

“We also have, in Kate Lewington, a very capable chief executive. We’re now well positioned and able to take a more dynamic, strategic and focused approach to tourism management in Orkney – an approach that will ensure as many local communities as possible can benefit.”

Lewington brings more than 20 years of business management experience across the public and private sectors to her new role.

She said: “I am very excited about this new opportunity and greatly looking forward to leading Destination Orkney, while developing a responsible plan for the future of Orkney as the natural choice for discerning visitors seeking a world-class experience.”

Image of Lexington by Fionn McArthur, Start Point Media/

Home page image of Skara Brae: Francesco Bonino/