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Survey results show rise in visitors to Orkney

11 February 2014

The Islands Visitor Survey results are released today and show the number of visitors to Orkney have risen along with levels of visitor satisfaction.

The Islands Visitor Survey shows that just over 142,800* people visited Orkney spending over £31 million in the local economy over the period of a year.

The survey took place between October 2012 and September 2013 and interviewed 1,328 visitors as they departed from Orkney.  The questions asked covered a broad range of topics, including what influenced them to visit, how they planned and booked their trip, where they stayed, what attractions they visited and what activities they participated in during their time in Orkney.

Overall satisfaction levels with their visit to Orkney were very high, with 87% of visitors being “very satisfied” and 12% being ‘fairly satisfied’.  The main influence on visitors deciding to come to Orkney was an interest in the archaeology and history of Orkney, followed by the fantastic scenery and landscape.  The most likely activities for visitors were visiting Orkney’s coastline and archaeological sites, enjoying short walks, trying local food and shopping for local crafts, amongst others.

One noticeable area of change is that 38% of visitors to Orkney now shared their experiences on-line, the main activity being uploading photos and updating their status on Facebook.

James Stockan, Chair of Orkney Islands Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee said:

“Tourism has long been at the heart of Orkney’s economy and the results of this survey give us confidence that this will be the case for some time to come.  The satisfaction levels expressed by tourists are particularly pleasing and are testament to the hard work and dedication to customer services of our industry providers.”

Audrey MacLennan, Senior Tourism Manager at HIE, said:

“The survey findings provide us with information which will help us measure the economic impact of visitors to the islands. It also gives us some great insights into the visitor experience across all three island groups which, in turn, will help the tourism business community and others to spot opportunities and identify what they need to do to ensure the service and experience they offer is up to date with visitor expectations, which could ultimately lead to an increase in visitor numbers.”

Barbara Foulkes, VisitScotlands Island Manager, said:

“The results of the Islands Visitor Survey show that tourism is a key economic driver for Orkney.  I am delighted to see a growth in visitors numbers particularly given the challenging economic climate - tourism continues to prove it is a resilient and sustainable industry.

“51% of those surveyed were returning to Orkney and it is very rewarding to see so many repeat visitors who obviously enjoyed previous trips so much they are coming again and sharing their experiences online.”

The Islands Visitor Survey was carried out across Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland.  The research was carried out by Scotinform Ltd and Reference Economics who conducted interviews in each of the island destinations.  The research work was also supported by local industry groups and the main transport operators to the islands.

*The 2008 / 2009 Orkney Visitor Survey reported 141,974 visitors

The Executive Summary and factsheets of the results from each Island region can be found at: www.visitscotland.org/research_and_statistics/visitor_research/all_markets/islands_visitor_survey.aspx


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