Tourism success in Orkney

Orkney has enjoyed a very successful tourism season in 2016. Island Manager, Barbara Foulkes, highlighted four fantastic features of the year.

Visitor numbers


Evidence suggests that Orkney has enjoyed one of the best years for tourism in recent memory. Some great examples of this include:

● Accommodation providers, attractions and other businesses all reporting increases in business
● A very busy year for the Kirkwall VisitScotland iCentre – one of the busiest in our network
● Kirkwall recording 126 port calls and welcoming just over 100,000 visitors, making it the most popular cruise ship destination in the UK.

Capitalise on this
With so many visitors looking to come to Orkney, and sourcing information on the internet, make sure your business is visible and bookable online. A free web listing on is a fantastic platform for this. Find out how to claim and maximise your listing.

Unique events



Events are a vitally important part of the local visitor economy with the ripple effect of event tourism felt in shops, hotels, restaurants and a wide variety of other businesses across the region. Orkney hosted some truly unique events in 2016. Highlights include:

● Battle of Jutland centenary commemoration events in May
● St Magnus Cathedral hosting the ceramic ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’ installation from April to June
● The special 10-day St Magnus International Festival to mark its 40th anniversary.

Capitalise on this
Keep us informed of your events in 2017, and upload them to for free fantastic exposure. Don't forget to promote local events on your own website and social media too.

Embracing the year



Orkney truly embraced the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, with themed events taking place across the year. Highlights include:
● Fashion the Future in September, part of the Orkney International Science Festival
● The Festival of Architecture’s ‘Scotstyle – Building the Century’ exhibition at The Piers Arts Centre
● The Piers Arts Centre being voted in Scotland’s top ten favourite buildings of the last 100 years
● The opening of Burray Crazy Golf – a fantastic example of innovation, architecture and design

Capitalise on this
Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design achieved some fantastic results which provide a great platform to build on for this year’s theme: History, Heritage and Archaeology – read on.

New developments and opportunities


We have worked closely with stakeholders and groups this year to take advantage of some key opportunities that will stand the region in great stead going forward and help make Orkney a must-visit, must-return destination.

These include:

● Promoting Orkney's starring role in Disney's BFG blockbuster
● Taking part in Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

● Plans for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney “Glow in the ArchaeoDark” event on World Heritage Day (18 April)
● Businesses using VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes to enhance their business and visitor experience
● More than 15 Orkney businesses signing up to the new VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) Programme.

Capitalise on this
Orkney is extremely well placed to take great advantage of this year’s theme. Check out the VisitScotland industry toolkit for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and find out more about the VIP Programme.


Looking forward
With the 2016 season proving so popular with visitors to Orkney, Barbara and the VisitScotland team are optimistic that tourism will continue to grow over the coming years.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank businesses and residents alike for being fantastic ambassadors for Orkney throughout the year. Here’s to 2017!

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