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Amenity trust graduate to explore cruise ship market and World Heritage site application

Shetland Amenity Trust is keen to explore what is offered to cruise ship passengers who visit the isles. Photo: Shetland News
Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Amenity Trust has opened up two new graduate placements in a bid to develop tourism in the isles, as well as review its property portfolio.

Tasks due to be undertaken by the graduates include exploring what is on offer to cruise ship passengers coming to Shetland, how to advance the isles’ World Heritage site application and reviewing the organisation’s office space.

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The trust hopes that the two year-long posts will encourage young graduates to come and live in Shetland.

Chief executive Mat Roberts said the tourism development coordinator will study the varied budgets and expectations of the growing number of cruise ship passengers who set foot in Lerwick for shoreside excursions.

Amenity trust chief executive Mat Roberts.

“At the moment, I think we as a community, and certainly as an organisation, have a tendency to see all cruise passengers as the same,” he said.

“There’s an incredibly broad range – the difference is quite significant, and therefore they probably need what will be described as a differentiated offer. They have different expectations.”

The graduate would collaborate with Shetland Tourism Association, VisitScotland and Shetland Islands Council in addition to liaising with Lerwick Port Authority in relation to cruise ship logistics and tour brokers.

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Another task would be to create a Geopark engagement plan and develop a full accreditation budget, as well as develop a plan for a long-mooted World Heritage status award application.

A joint entry consisting of the broch on Mousa, the Old Scatness settlement and Jarlshof is already on a tentative list of UK sites bidding to join UNESCO’s exclusive collection of the most important places to visit in the world. Each project has ten years to submit a full application.

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“That tentative status was renewed this year,” Roberts said.

“We’ve been on the list for a decade. We now have a second decade in order to actually do something with it, so we have to make a decision as to whether or not we want to invest in and pursue the opportunity or whether or not it’s not appropriate.

Shetland Amenity Trust's main office in Lerwick.

“We probably won’t get a third bite at the cherry.”

The trust boss said he was keen to add a “non-ologist” viewpoint to the World Heritage application in addition to the existing expertise provided by the likes of archaeologists.

The second graduate post is for a property development coordinator, who would review Shetland Amenity Trust’s headquarters at Garthspool in Lerwick, its holiday accommodation and the Staney Hill museum store.

They would develop an “options appraisal” for each property and create a business case in the process.

“Do we have the right office accommodation for the organisation we are today, and maybe in the future?” Roberts said.

“We are aware that the core of the staff are under two roofs – some are in the museum and some are at Garthspool. Is there an opportunity to bring everybody together under one roof?”

The chief executive added that a general review will take place of the trust’s holiday accommodation portfolio of lighthouses and camping bods.

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There is a 70 per cent occupancy rate in lighthouses, but it is slightly less in the bods, and the trust is keen to learn how it can improve on those figures.

Both placements are part-funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund, and it is hoped the successful candidates could be in place by the autumn.

The trust hopes that the two posts will be the first in a series of graduate placements.

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