Tourism in Moray hits record figures

MORAY has enjoyed its best ever year for tourism, with more visitors descending on the region and generating almost £120m for the local economy.

Piping at Forres is one of Moray's tourism success stories. Picture: Supplied

The number of tourists heading to Moray Speyside has risen to 750,410 last year, from 702,350 in 2015 – up by 6.8%

Meanwhile, the amount of revenue generated by tourism activities has risen from £105,67m in 2015 to 117,64m in 2016 – up by 11.2%

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The number of people employed in the region’s tourism industry has grown to 2,769, up by 9.6% on 2015. And visitor days have risen to 1,799,430 from 1,751,580 in 2015 – up by 2.7%.

There is further encouraging news for the region’s tourism businesses, with the data showing an increase in the value of spend in all sectors of the industry, from food and drink, to shopping, transport, recreation and accommodation.

In total, expenditure on tourism in Moray Speyside has grown to £117,64m – an increase of £37.5m since 2009.

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Of the 750,410 visitors to Moray in 2016, 59% stayed at least one night, with the remaining 41% attributable to day visitors, many of whom are attracted to the region by the impressive array of events on offer across the area such as Piping at Forres and Colours of Cluny.

Laurie Piper, operations manager for Moray Speyside Tourism, said: “This excellent performance shows that Moray Speyside is giving its visitors what they want - a unique and unforgettable experience, whether for a short break, a staycation or a longer holiday.

“We need to capitalise on this great work, and continue working together across the region and beyond to develop our visitor market.”

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “This growth in tourism spending in Moray Speyside is to be welcomed. Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is integral to sustaining communities across the region by generating income, creating jobs and stimulating social change.

“Working in partnership with VisitScotland, the Destination Management Organisation for the region, Moray Speyside Tourism, has been working extremely hard to really put this region on the map for our visitors, through events such as VisitScotland Expo in April, where Moray Speyside had the largest number of exhibitors to date.

“There has also been a growth in events and festivals in the region, including Findhorn Bay Arts Festival, ‘Distilled’, Spirit of Speyside, Gordon Castle Highland Games and Piping at Forres which have all attracted visitors from around the world.

“There has also been a huge amount of investment in hotels in Moray Speyside in recent years, including The Dowans Hotel in Aberlour, The Station Hotel in Rothes and The Craigellachie. Moray Speyside’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand.”

Rachel Hunter, HIE area manager for Moray, said: “We are delighted to contribute to the partnership project which develops Moray’s tourism assets, co-ordinates events, liaises with local groups and works with stakeholders and also allows the Chamber to employ a full-time Tourism Manager working for Moray Speyside.

“Tourism in Moray has gone from strength to strength in the three years since MST was established. These figures announced today are very encouraging and highlights the consistent and professional work carried out by MST to grow the tourism sector in Moray.”

Moray Speyside Tourism is tasked with delivering the Moray Tourism Strategy. The strategy, published in 2014, recognised that tourism is one of Moray’s key industries and aims to double the value of tourism to the Moray economy by 2025, to increase the number of employees sustained by the sector, and to raise the occupancy levels in both serviced and non-serviced accommodation.