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Letters / Survey confirms dangers to tourism

Contrary to assertions in Shetland News, the tangible evidence from the VisitScotland tourism survey of attitudes to windfarms actually underlines the dangers to Shetland’s tourism industry. (Turbines don’t put off tourists, SN, 25 April 2012)

The survey that has delighted the delusional Mr Ewing so much was conducted on approximately 0.01% of annual visitor numbers to the UK so I can’t imagine very many Shetland bound visitors were interviewed.

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But of course this isn’t the first time that this SNP minister has been unable to understand the difference between relative scale of windfarm development on mainland Scotland and our small island group.

Visitors rarely come to Shetland for a single reason; mostly they come to experience all that Shetland has to offer as a package – an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

To put the VisitScotland survey in context we need to look first at the Shetland Visitor Survey for Shetland Islands Council from 2006.

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This shows clearly that: 91% of all visitors to Shetland visit Central Mainland and 61% visit North Mainland; 10% of tourists come to Shetland for scenery and landscape; 10% come for peace, quiet and remoteness; 17% come for birds/wildlife/nature/flora.

In fact this survey shows 91% of all visitors, and in particular 37% of tourists, visit Shetland for a positive environmental experience. In Scotland visitors that find wind turbines objectionable can easily move a relatively short distance to another area.

The VisitScotland survey, which is pretty superficial anyway, is seriously flawed by not factoring in the visitor demographic.

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For example the survey didn’t look at the visitor demographic to ascertain what percentage were wildlife or outdoor tourists – a factor that would have a crucial bearing on analysis of the survey answers.

However the survey did state that: ‘18.7% of UK consumers were in agreement as well as nearly 20% of Scotland respondents that the countryside was spoilt by these structures’.

Also ‘18% of UK respondents and 17% of Scotland respondents agreed that they would tend to avoid any parts of the countryside with wind farms’. When you look at this in the context of the Shetland survey it is a fair bet that these respondents were wildlife or outdoor tourists.

One result from the survey that is extremely worrying for Shetland is the analysis of visitor response to statement:

“1.4.3: It would be an added attraction if wind farms were located in popular tourist areas.

Analysis: ‘It appears that respondents would in general prefer not to see wind farms in popular tourist areas with 43% of respondents disagreeing with this statement’. Furthermore the survey states: ‘41% of UK and Scotland respondents disagreed that seeing a wind farm would add to their enjoyment of the UK/Scotland countryside’.”

Shetland is in fact marketed by both VisitScotland and Promote Shetland as a separate and distinct tourist destination. Potentially Viking Energy could lose us 43% of our tourist trade.

As well as destroying our landscape the proposed Viking Energy industrial belt across the heart of Central Mainland could have a devastating effect on our tourism industry. No longer would we be able to market ourselves as a unique and beautiful landscape to compare with any on the planet; no longer would National Geographic sing our praises.

Allen Fraser
Shetland Geotours

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