Visiting Orkney

The number of Orkney visitors is increasing, and so is their spending. In 2009 they contributed ??31.8 million to the local economy.

If you were to visit Orkney in its peak summer season, you would meet a growing number of enthusiastic holiday-makers making the most of their break with visits to historic sites and beautiful coastal walks.

The number of Orkney visitors is increasing, and so is their spending. In 2009 they contributed £31.8 million to the local economy. The island location lends itself to overnight stays, with 70 per cent of visitors staying for at least one night, so they are looking for lots of things to see and do. Orkney is full of exciting attractions to entice visitors.

Holiday makers are the dominant market. Some will be visiting on the back of a positive previous experience; others on the advice of friends or relative. Either way, word-of-mouth is an important marketing tool for Orkney tourism.

Knowing the market

Around half of all visitors to Orkney come from Scotland; a third from the rest of the UK.

The mature market is important, as the majority of visitors are within the 55 to 64 age group.

Businesses could target special offers at couples, as they make up the largest proportion of visitors.

70 per cent of visitors surfed online to find out about Orkney prior to visiting. It is also the main form of booking for accommodation.

Opportunities for businesses

Around half of visitors say they are likely to return within five years, so discounted return packages could work well.

An overwhelming majority of visitors say they would recommend Orkney to others. Businesses could offer incentives like ‘refer a friend’ where the original customer receives a future discount.

Despite a high use of the internet for trip research, only 10 per cent of visitors said it influenced their trip decision. This suggests that online offerings could be improved.

Lengths of trips have decreased by about 1 night since 2005. Incentive promotions that offer a discount for a longer stay could help to reverse this.

Enhancing the visitor experience

The majority of visitors to Orkney are on their first trip to the island – an information pack about the area would be helpful.  

Some visitors complain about a lack of restaurants. Accommodation providers could recommend local eateries and link up to offer deals.

Sight-seeing and coastal walks are the most popular activities. Visitors may need flexible mealtimes, somewhere to dry clothes and access to weather forecasts and maps.

Two of the most popular forms of transport are hire car and bus. Businesses could link with hire companies for preferential rates and supply visitors with bus timetables.

Advanced bookings are usually made two to four months before arrival, so special offers would have to be timed with this in mind.

If you remember one thing

Transport to Orkney is considered very poor in terms of value. Outside influences like this mean that tourism businesses need to perfect their own offerings if they are to continue exceeding customer expectations and draw more visitors in.