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Puffin by Laurie Campbell

Wildlife tourism �beaking’ barriers in Scotland

More than ВЈ300 million spent by tourists seeing Scottish wildlife

Date : 14/03/2015

Tourists are spending almost £300 million a year on Scottish wildlife according to a report by Bournemouth University for the Scottish Government. 

Scotland is renowned for having some of the best wildlife in Europe, from bottlenose dolphins swimming in the Moray Firth to golden eagles flying over the Cairngorm Mountains, but its birdlife which appears to be the most popular amongst visitors. 

Bournemouth University’s report produced a range of key stats and facts relating to Scotland’s wildlife tourism industry across the country, ultimately having direct impact on the economy;

Tourists spend £65 million a year bird watching and, when combined with other spending, such as accommodation and food, totals £276 million

Key facts

  • Loch Lomond and the West Coast enjoys a £65 million economic boost from wildlife tourism 
  • Scotland’s whale watchers contribute a total of £7.8 million to West Coast tourism whilst eager dolphin spotters are accountable for £4 million of Moray Firth’s economic boost
  • Wildlife tourism is especially popular in the Highlands and Islands who benefit from £124 million that visitors bring

In order to cope with the popular demands of this growing wildlife tourism industry, businesses are employing more staff across the country, especially in the north. The total visitor spending has translated to the equivalent of 2,763 full-time tourism jobs across Scotland including 1,386 posts in the Highlands and Islands alone. 

Customer demand has changed as visitors want to see a much wider variety of wildlife, ranging from dolphins to badgers, in addition to the iconic Speyside birdlife, such as ospreys and capercaillies. Sally Dowden, owner of Speyside Wildlife, said:

“I think that the two biggest changes I’ve seen have been the creation of Wild Scotland – the trade body that really gave the industry a voice – and the Scottish Government report into the economic impact of wildlife tourism. 

“Before that, I don’t think that a lot of people realised the link within the tourism sector even existed – let alone that it was worth so much money to the economy”.

The ‘Springwatch effect’ has also enticed visitors to the country following the use of a range of Scottish landscapes on television programmes. It encouraged viewers to come and see the Scottish wildlife and landscapes for themselves, which has also contributed millions of pounds towards the country’s economy and Scotland’s wildlife tourism industry.  

The growth of Scotland’s wildlife tourism can offer multiple opportunities for businesses across the country. For top tips on creating a memorable visitor experience and advice on helping your business make the most of wildlife tourism, check out Tourism Intelligence Scotland’s Wildlife Tourism Intelligence Guide to unlock your business’s potential.