A record season for visiting cruise ships has helped steer Orkney to one of the isles most successful years for tourism.
The islands have enjoyed a bumper year, thanks to Kirkwall, the most popular cruise ship destination in the UK, recording 126 port calls and welcoming more than 100,000 visitors.
VisitScotland Island manager Barbara Foulkes said: “Evidence suggests that Orkney has enjoyed one of the best years for tourism in recent memory, with accommodation providers, attractions and other businesses all reporting increases in business in 2016.
“A major contributing factor to this boost has been the record amount of cruise ships stopping off in Kirkwall throughout the year. This has meant increased business for Orkney’s tour guides, visitor attractions and the wider visitor economy on the islands.
“Unique events, such as the poppies at St Magnus Cathedral, also played their part in making the tourism year a great success.”
She added: “It has also been great to see fun new attractions, such as Burray Crazy Golf, being added to the tourism scene.
“A culmination of a year-long effort by the local community, the 12-hole course made headlines across the country when it opened in April and Britain’s most northerly crazy golf course went on to become a big hit with locals and visitors alike.”
Orkney has also played an active part in Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, with themed events taking place during the year.
Ms Foulkes said: “Fashion the Future, part of the Orkney International Science Festival, was a particular highlight. The Piers Arts Centre in Stromness also took centre stage, exhibiting the Festival of Architecture’s Scotstyle – Building the Century (event).
“Next year is the Year of History, Heritage and Archeology, and Orkney is poised to take great advantage once again.
“From World Heritage sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions and our myths, stories and legends, the year-long programme will shine a spotlight on some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems.”
The past year has also seen a shift in the nature of tourism information provision in Orkney.
While VisitScotland iCentres remain at the heart of delivery, the national tourism body’s iKnow Scotland and VisitScotland Information Partner programmes are also helping to promote the isles and their many attractions.