Grouse shooting visitors spent more than £3,500 each in Scottish communities before firing a shot – providing a boom despite Covid-19 constraints.
A visitor survey was undertaken jointly by Scotland’s regional moorland groups and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association on 22 grouse shooting estates – which include Loch Ness, Tomatin and Speyside areas.
It has helped quantify the level of visitor spend in remote rural communities adversely affected by Covid-19 constraints.
The survey showed there was obviously fewer overseas visitors this year, but some of the slack was taken up by UK-based guests.
Despite Covid-19 impacting the grouse shooting season this year, the survey organisers believe the shoots which did go ahead will have helped businesses to survive and retain staff.
Lianne MacLennan, co-ordinator of Scotland’s regional moorland groups, said: “A lot of work went into sector guidance with Scottish Government but the season was always going to be different, due to the pandemic and reduced overseas clientele.
“This survey shows how important grouse shoots are to fragile areas. There has been a lot of businesses very glad of having high spending visitors around during an awful year.
“Rural economies were disproportionately impacted by lockdown and we haven’t yet seen the end of unemployment and closures because of Covid 19.”
It showed that, despite a lack of overseas shooters this season because of global quarantine rules, each visitor spent an average of £3593.18 in local communities, before shoot costs were even added in.
That represents an average spend of over £450 per day in some of the country’s most remote communities, with local accommodation, food, shops and garages all benefitting.
While average spend on car hire from air and ferry hubs saw nearly £327 per person going into the wider Scottish economy, the majority of the spend was in local, economically fragile areas.
The majority of respondents were internal UK visitors, with a smaller number from the Netherlands – with the average visit lasting one week.
The Dutch respondents in the survey spent an average of £3228.57 per person and used a mix of car, train, flight and ferry in order to fulfil their sporting holiday in Scotland.
Between them they spent £8850 on accommodation during their trip, boosting local providers.
Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, recently named an MBE in the Queens honours list, said: “Most Government enterprise agencies and tourist bodies are fighting over themselves to attract high spending individuals to Scotland. Grouse shooting does this.
“Scotland has a premium product, in global terms, and the spend helps communities. It sustains land management jobs and keeps families in homes.
“With the economy set to shrink, there is a relief that we managed to get some visitors in, at all, for the grouse this year.”