Laurie Piper, Operations Manager at Moray Speyside Tourism, reflects on Moray’s thriving tourism industry and looks ahead to the 2018 season.
Tourism businesses across Moray Speyside are gearing up for Easter and the official ‘start’ of the 2018 tourist season – so now seems as good a time as any, to remind people just how important the visitor economy is to our region.
The value of tourism to the region has been growing steadily since we were established in 2014, and while Moray Speyside Tourism can’t forecast the weather for the year ahead, we are confidently predicting a bright and sunny outlook for local tourism businesses. Read on if you want to hear plain good news!
So, as you might already know, I’m the first to promote Moray Speyside as a year-round destination, but forgive me for focusing here on the first six months of the year. The big headline is that from Jan – June 2017, the economic impact of tourism here was a staggering £57,950,000 (almost £60 million). Not only is that a big number, it’s the biggest we’ve had for that metric since anyone started counting, and it’s a 7.5% jump from the same period of 2016. It’s well deserved of course, as Moray businesses strive to make their mark in a very busy tourism market. All the sectors (accommodation, food & drink, recreation, shopping and transport) have seen a rise in spending 2016 to 2017.
All the hard work in the region has also paid huge dividends for non-tourism businesses – indirect spending taking the biggest share of the total spend, at 23.3%. It’s all down to increasing visitor numbers of every type. Moray businesses have surely found something for every niche of the tourism market, resulting in a boost to employment in 2017. Great news for entrepreneurs and start-ups who have something to offer Speyside visitors.
Perhaps of little surprise but worth noting, is that the largest number of bed spaces was provided by touring and camping establishments. It’s no wonder Moray has such broad appeal to campers and tourers not to mention families, retirees, and not forgetting the FITs, as we call them in the trade – that’s Free Independent Travellers. There is simply something for everyone here!
That’s exactly what Moray Speyside Tourism has been doing since 2014, what we’ve been doing at travel trade shows in Cardiff and Berlin in the past couple of months, and what we’ll be doing at this year’s VisitScotland Expo in Glasgow on 11th and 12th April. We will again lead representation from the region with a wide range of commercial partners including The Macallan, Johnstons of Elgin, Ballindalloch Estate, Malt Whisky Trail, Ace Adventures and Spirit of Speyside. With such iconic and world-class food and drink attractions to be found in MoraySpeyside, there will be significant focus on the ‘Taste of Moray’ food and drink stand!
The Expo is a flagship event for Scottish tourism businesses to promote their products and services to travel trade buyers from around the globe. Last year, the Expo attracted 405 international buyers, of which 82% stated their main reasons for attendance was to make new contacts and pick up new ideas. It’s a tremendous opportunity to keep Moray Speyside on people’s minds as well as on the radar with the international travel trade, and I’ll be only too happy to update you on the highlights later in the season.