Organisers of the RockNess festival were facing a furious backlash from north businesses last night after pulling the plug on this summer’s event.
Music fans labelled the cancellation “a disgrace” in a year when thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Scotland for the Commonwealth Games and Homecoming 2014.
Highland business leaders said the move was “hugely disappointing” and warned it would cost the local economy millions of pounds in lost trade.
Organisers of the Loch Ness event blamed the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the football World Cup in Brazil for the decision not to go ahead this summer.
The festival, which is held at Dores, was started in 2006 by DJ Fatboy Slim and is now run by global entertainment company AEG.
At its height, RockNess attracted as many as 30,000 revellers over its three days, but in recent years there have been rumours of dwindling ticket sales.
Earlier this year, organisers sought alternative dates in an effort to prevent clashes with Homecoming Scotland events.
But yesterday they released a short statement to fans saying: “We’d like to thank you for your support over the last eight years.
“Due to the addition of a number of events alongside the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, we’ve decided to take a year off.
“We’re using this break to make the event bigger and better than ever in 2015, so have an amazing summer and see you back at the loch next year.”
No one from the company could be reached for comment yesterday.
But businesses in Inverness said they would be counting the cost of losing an event that brought millions into the local economy. Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said the cancellation was “hugely disappointing – particularly this year because there is so much going on across Scotland”.
He added: “It was a well established part of the calendar in an iconic setting and the business community was enjoying the benefits.
“I think that the event was busy enough and established enough that it would not have been affected by other events.
“The great concern is that they pulled the plug this year. I think it could have kept going and would have gone from strength to strength.”
Accommodation providers are now crossing their fingers that they can fill their rooms without the boost from the RockNess crowd.
In Dores, councillor Norrie Donald said locals would miss the annual gathering.
He said: “The sad thing is that it will have an effect on the local community and the whole of the Inverness area. I would think that guesthouses will suffer, albeit it for one weekend.”
More than 500 comments were posted online in response to the organisers’ statement, including one from Ryan Mitchell, who said: “Poor show RockNess. Little too late for this announcement I’m afraid. Could have let festivalgoers know this ages ago.”
Comment, Page 30