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TV show triggers Unst tourist boom

| Written by Chris Cope

The BBC's promotional image for the series An Island Parish which began on BBC2 last month. The BBC's promotional image for the series An Island Parish which began on BBC2 last month. SHETLAND'S most northerly island is experiencing a tourism boom after featuring on a popular BBC TV series.

Unst is currently starring in the BBC Two documentary An Island Parish and the nationwide exposure is seeing interest in the island rise significantly.

Enquiries into accommodation and tours are up, while businesses are enjoying a boost. Visitors are also heading north to Unst earlier in the year than usual.

North isles tourism development officer Kellie Naulls said locals were “really pleased” with how Unst has been portrayed in the show.

The programme explores everyday life on the island, from Reverend David Cooper’s work as the north isles minister to peat casting and the local eela competition.

“Accommodation providers say there has been an increase in enquiries, and there’s also been an increase in requests for tours in Unst,” Naulls noted.

“Businesses are seeing a lot more visitors in Unst earlier than usual. There’s been people coming in March and April, and that’s not just visitors from Shetland, it’s people coming up [from the UK mainland] too.”

The Gardiesfauld youth hostel in Uyeasound already has bookings for 2017 as a direct result of the programme, while more than 200 bottles of Shetland Distillery Company gin and whisky were sold online after the business was featured on the show.

An Island Parish first aired in March, with the sixth and final episode set to be broadcast on Monday.

Naulls added that Unst Partnership, which promotes tourism, industry and education in the island, is hoping to use the interest as a springboard for more development.

“We’re planning to build on the momentum that’s come from the show,” she said.

“Promote Shetland are looking at a webcam for Unst, and we’re looking at having special tour packages to extend the season, in areas like textiles and adventure tourism.

“We’re also trying to link in the Shetland-wide events, so the classic cars are coming up in June, we’re linking in with food and drink, and there’s also Shetland Boat Week.

“There’s a real buzz about the place and a feel good factor after the show. We’re trying to build on that and not only help Unst, but the north isles of Fetlar and Yell too.”

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