Orkney’s economy is being boosted by £3.1million boost each year from its cruise ship industry, a new survey has revealed.
A total of 73 ships, carrying 51,000 passengers, visited the islands in 2013.
Orkney Islands Council carried out a survey in the summer using 10 of the vessels and speaking to 2,511 passengers and 659 crew.
The survey revealed that 97% of passengers felt that their visit met or exceeded their expectations.
Visitors rated the friendliness of residents, courtesy of shop staff and local transport options as the best parts of their Orkney experience, alongside the county’s historic sites and museums.
The ‘Meet and Greet’ shoreside welcome provided by the council through local tour guide operators was also praised.
Of those surveyed, 95% said it was their first visit to Orkney, 90% said they would recommend Orkney to friends and family as a tourist destination, and 23% said they would like to return.
The survey indicates that each cruise passenger spends on average around £46 (€55) while ashore, with crews spend just over £8.30 (€10).
Across the 73 cruise ship visits in 2013, the total spend by passengers and crew, while ashore or on tours in the county, was reported at £2.25million and £61,600 respectively.
The top categories of spending by passengers were crafts and souvenirs (51.3%), restaurants and bars (44.4%) and clothing (20.8%).
Councillor James Stockan, chair of the authority’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “The overall economic gain to Orkney of almost £3.1million, through harbour dues, passenger tours, and spending at tourist sites and on the high street, is a fantastic achievement in the current hard financial times.
“Many, many people in Orkney contribute to this - from our Meet and Greet staff to the friendly faces on the street and in our shops and tourist sites.
“We should all feel proud that the county continues to attract cruise ships in today’s competitive climate, and that we send people away with a smile on their face and good words for the county - and in many cases, a determination to return.”