Local News

Positive Outlook for Orkney’s Tourism 2023

View over Harray Loch with sun and hills of Hoy
Image credit Christie Grahame

Cheryl Chapman, VisitScotland Development Manager for Orkney has expressed some optimism about the islands tourism season this year. Speaking about her hopes for 2023.

Cheryl said:

head and shoulders shot of Cheryl Chapman of Visit Scotland

“Our local attractions are going from strength to strength with new investment in hotels and accommodation such as The Kirkwall, The Lynnfield and the newly-refurbished Stronsay Hotel, which is now under community ownership; and in food and drink locations including Deerness Distillery, Adam’s Place in Stromness and the Barrier View Café at Holm. 

“Our knowledgeable and friendly staff at Kirkwall iCentre are already on standby to offer our visitors a warm welcome and a wealth of information on the wide variety of things to see and do locally, where to stay and the best places to eat and drink.  

“Our iCentres also stock a range of beautiful gifts, including our Shop Local range. The retail initiative works with local artisans and craft makers who make a positive social and environmental impact and offers them the opportunity to promote and sell their products to visitors via the VisitScotland iCentre network. 

“Responsible tourism is at the heart of everything we do at VisitScotland and it is vital that we put the welfare of the individual and communities, as well as our natural environment, at the centre of our approach. Many Orkney businesses, including JP Orkney, Orcadian Wildlife and Wild Orkney Walks, are on board with this.  

“We will also promote off-season visits to Orkney – as well as its natural and cultural heritage – as part of our Spirit of the Highlands and Islands campaign in the autumn. 

A view across the roof tops with Kirkwall Bay and the peedie sea in the distance
Kirkwall as viewed from the stop of St Magnus Cathedral

“Tourism must protect our cultural heritage, our attractions, events and activities that make Scotland unique. This year will see us continue to work in partnership with businesses and communities so that visitors and locals can have a fantastic experience.” 

“It was fantastic to be able to immerse ourselves once again in the plethora of popular events, festivals and shows that made a return in 2022, including Orkney Folk Festival, which had record ticket sales and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.  

“Looking ahead, we continue our fantastic line up of events which attract visitors from across the globe, as well as locals. These include Orkney Nature Festival, Orkney Folk Festival, St Magnus International Festival, North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival, Orkney Classic Motor Show, Orkney Storytelling Festival and Orkney International Science Festival. 

vintage car and in the background the crowds of people looking at the vehicles
Display of Vintage cars during the Orkney International Science Festival image credit Kenny Armet

“A variety of agricultural shows take place in August which are a huge part of the community calendar but also much-loved by visitors.” 

“Next month, we are thrilled to be hosting the VisitScotland Connect 2023 travel trade workshop at Aberdeen’s P&J Live. This is our first in-person, industry-wide, travel trade event for four years, exclusively promoting Scotland as a leisure destination to representatives from around the world.  

“Destination Orkney will be attending to represent our many tourism businesses, along with other operators including Northlink Ferries and Pentland Ferries. 

“Looking ahead to the summer, Scotland will play host to the first ever UCI Cycling World Championships, which sees 13 world championships over 11 days of action in August. Tickets are now on sale for the various events – including BMX, indoor cycling, para cycling, mountain bike downhill and trials – and people can also volunteer and be part of history.  

“VisitScotland has also created a cycling tourism industry guide for businesses, to help them make the most of the cycling tourism market and help Scotland establish itself as a world-class cycling destination.  

“We are really looking forward to welcoming Olympic and World Champion cyclist Chris Hoy to Orkney at the end of April to officially open the Scapa Flow Museum on Hoy. On the back of his visit, we are working hard to create a legacy for cycling on Hoy, with more details to come closer to the time! 

The Scapa Flow Museum with large display board at entrance and a propeller from HMS Hampshire
Scapa Flow Museum, Lyness Hoy

“This year, Orkney had its very own and successful tourism awards organised by Destination Orkney. As part of the judging panel for a number of awards, we were very impressed with the quality of entries. We hope the winning businesses may find further recognition as they will now be nominated by Destination Orkney for the Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards – and may even go on to the national Scottish Thistle Awards.” 

More information and support on the cost of doing business – from cutting costs or improving efficiencies to attracting new customers – can be found here: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/cost-of-business 

white sands and blue seas and skies in Stronsay

Cheryl continued:

“We’re focusing on the responsible growth of our industry, including the regional and seasonal spread of visitors and attracting higher-value visitors who stay longer and spend more.   

“Our enthusiasm is, of course, tempered by understandable concerns over the continuing high cost of doing business, which remains a challenging backdrop for many in the industry. With the increased cost of materials and energy and difficulties in recruiting staff, combined with double-digit inflation, the pressures are being felt by every business in Scotland.

“VisitScotland is continuing to support tourism businesses in the challenging times ahead, providing them with advice and guidance to help them now and going forward, allowing them to build a more sustainable future.” 

Click on this link to access more information about places to stay and visitor attractions: VisitScotland

A grass pathway cuts through the tall wildflowers on either side. In the distance a small dog waits
Path at the Ring of Brodgar

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