SHETLAND Wool Week (SWW) delivered a boost to the local economy worth over £700,000, a one third increase on last year, according to an independent survey.
This year’s nine-day event saw visitors travelling from outside the islands pumped an additional £650,000 into the economy, boosted further by a £60,000 spend among locals. The figures are based on money spent on SWW classes and tours, food and drink, accommodation, travel, wool and gifts.
While the number of visitors, at round 650, was comparable to last year, one of the biggest driver behind the increase in money spent was people staying in Shetland for longer. Around 90 per cent of survey respondents stayed in the islands for five days or more.
SWW organisers Victoria Tait said: “These results are very encouraging and it is testament to the efforts both from the Shetland Amenity Trust and the wider textile community that goes into planning and delivering such a large scale event.
“We focus on raising the profile and brand of SWW and Shetland’s textile industry throughout the year and it is fantastic to welcome visitors from all over the world, including the UK, USA, Canada, Scandinavia, Europe, Australia and beyond.
“What stood out for us this year was that people chose to stay longer in order to take part in as many classes and events as possible, as well as allowing some extra time to travel around the islands and learn more about Shetland’s heritage.
“The survey suggests that visitors appreciate the authenticity of the event and the festival has an overall score of 90 out of 100, which is exceptionally high.
“Of course, there are always areas for improvement and the challenge for us is to keep the event fresh whilst also running a well-managed event which caters to a group of people who have high expectations and have travelled long distances to be here.”
Shetland Amenity Trust heritage manager Misa Hay said: “SWW is more than just a nine-day festival: it is in fact a year-round promotion of Shetland’s textile heritage and industry.
“We are also seeing a community benefit being felt – including a resurgence in knitwear design as a possible career route, with individuals such as Terri Malcolmson and Donna Smith setting up their own design and yarn business.
“Since its conception eight years ago SWW has grown into an internationally-acclaimed event. It is a celebration of Shetland’s native sheep breed, our textile industry and rural farming community and it engages a number of other partners from all areas of Shetland’s wool and textile community, who work together to put on an extensive programme of events and activities through the year.”
Plans are underway for next year’s SWW, which takes place from 22-30 September 2018. The deadline for submissions for tutors and event providers is 12 February and anyone interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.