Scotland’s £130 million sailing tourism economy is set to grow by as much as 28% in the next seven years, according to new published research.
The ‘Sailing Tourism in Scotland’ report, published today (6th January) and launched on the SailScotland stand at the London Boat Show concludes that sailing tourism is worth £130 million to Scotland’s economy and supports 2700 jobs across Scotland’s four main sailing areas – the Clyde, West, North and East coasts. The report goes on to identify the potential of a further increase of £36.9 million to a worth of £167.1 million over the next seven years.
The report outlines the potential for growth and opportunities for private and public investment in
critical infrastructural developments to meet growing demand whilst also making more areas of Scottish sailing waters accessible to cruising yachts.
Part of the multi-million potential is in recognising the increase of visiting non-Scottish boat owners choosing to moor and berth their vessels in Scotland. This year, non-Scottish sailors contributed almost £39 million of the £130 million sailing brought into Scotland, a 24% increase since 2009.
Across Scotland there are currently 15,700 berths available for sailors, up from 12,600 in 2009. With berth occupancy at 95%, a further 3000 berths could potentially be added over the next seven years to continue the growth of the sailing industry. And while the focus remains on the west coast where the majority of the sector’s activities take place, key developments on the east coast in The Forth and The Tay will be vital to attract a European market.
Stuart McMillan MSP, Convenor of Scottish Parliament’s cross party group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism said: “This research confirms the economic potential in a sector that is a key part of Scotland’s marine tourism offering. We launched our strategy ‘Awakening the Giant’ at the end of 2015 and said we would make Scotland the marine destination of first choice by 2020. This research indicates that this ambition is achievable with significant potential for growth and benefits for coastal and island communities.”
The Crown Estate’s Asset Manager, Paul Bancks said: “The Crown Estate is keen to play a part in ensuring that sailing tourism reaches its full potential. A joined-up approach will help grow the sailing tourism market in Scotland with all the benefits it brings - not only in terms of economic benefits but re-enforcing Scotland’s reputation as a world class visitor destination”.
This latest research is a key action in the strategic framework for Scotland marine tourism sector ‘Awakening the Giant’, which is led by a Marine Tourism Development Group (MTDG) comprising industry groups and tourism experts. The five-year plan aims to boost Scotland‘s reputation as a world class marine tourism destination by improving the experience of visitors, building facilities and skills within the sector, and promoting the huge range of events and activities available around Scotland’s coast. The strategy aims to grow the total value of the sector from £360 million to £450 million, by 2020.
Alan Rankin, Marine Tourism Project Manager said. “The numbers speak for themselves, Scotland is an in-demand sailing destination. To maintain the growth there is a vital need for further investment in facilities around visitor pontoons, moorings and shore side infrastructure. Get this right and the customer experience continue to improve so attracting more visitors and sailing can play an even bigger role in Scotland’s tourism economy.”
Chris Taylor, Highlands and Islands Enterprise Head of Tourism, said: “The Highlands and Islands is home to some of the most interesting and challenging sailing waters in Scotland. The region is already gaining recognition internationally as a world class sailing destination with many remote and rural communities developing first class marina facilities which are proving to be increasingly attractive to the global sailing community. But it is also the experience visitors get of Scotland as a whole which is so important. There’s no doubt that the cultural heritage, enticing environment and quality produce Scotland is famous for plays a huge part in enticing visitors to our shores and keeps them returning. As more visitors come, more jobs are being created in this vibrant and growing part of the tourism sector in Scotland."
Marc Crothall, Scottish Tourism Alliance and Chair of the MTDG said: “This research is very encouraging as it further supports the belief of the MTDG and others that continuing to invest in marine infrastructure and develop the total marine tourism experience with industry partners on shore through innovation and collaboration will help ensure the sector can realise it's true potential and contribute to the overall growth of Scotland’s tourism economy"
The report was compiled by EKOS Ltd and was funded by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, The Crown Estate and Scottish Canals to identify opportunities and growth potential in recreational sailing - marine tourism’s largest sector.