Shetland unveils ambitious tourism target

Shetland’s tourism trade hopes a new strategy will increase the value of the sector by £10 million over the next five years, reaching £33.5 million by 2023.

According to a BBC report, Shetland Tourism Association (STA) visitor figures show recent growth of 13%, from 65,000 in 2013 to 73,000 in 2017.

Expenditure per person rose from £251 in 2013, to £317 in 2017 –  and last year cruise ships brought more than 90,000 people to Shetland.

Viking history, wildlife, the Northern Lights and Shetland’s unique geology are all included in the plans to increase tourism to the islands.

Emma Miller, chairwoman of the STA, told the BBC about the “unique and outstanding visitor experiences” that Shetland offers, such as its Unesco Global Geopark – one of only two in Scotland.

The destination has also been boosted by the BBC crime drama Shetland.

The STA will also appoint a tourism development worker to promote and co-ordinate tourism and attract visitors outside peak season.

• Shetland has had a record-breaking year for cruise liner visitors, reports the BBC.

More than 90,000 passengers arrived in 2018, a 78% increase year-on-year, and next year is set to be even more successful.

Victor Sandison, Lerwick Port Authority’s senior commercial executive, told the BBC: “A great team effort by everyone involved in Shetland has meant another very successful cruise season and helped ensure we are on even more itineraries in 2019.

“Local providers have risen to the challenge of servicing the extra demands.

“In a rapidly expanding global market, with another 90 vessels on order over the next five years, there is increasing requirement for special places to visit and the growing popularity of Shetland and its many attractions as a top destination augurs well for the future.

“There are 115 vessels, including 12 maiden calls, booked so far for 2019, up 25% on 2018, with passenger numbers approaching 92,000. Highlights will include a call by Cunard’s Queen Victoria in July.”

Pictured: Shetland ponies on Foula, Shetland. Credit: ©VisitBritain/Paul Tomkins/VisitScotland