The Moray tourism industry’s economic contribution plummeted by more than half during the pandemic, “sobering” figures have revealed.
New figures have laid bare the devastating impact the coronavirus crisis has had on the tourism sector.
Moray’s economy like many suffered from visitor numbers taking a nosedive during lockdown.
Alarming stats about tourism
Visit Moray Speyside commissioned Steam Global Tourism Solutions to produce statistics for the last 10 years.
The results show the tourism industry’s economic impact on the region declined from £134m in 2019 to £58m in 2020.
Tourist numbers fell by 55% last year.
This comes after years of growth for the industry.
Situation could be worse if the pandemic hit 10 years earlier
Visit Moray Speyside chief executive Laurie Piper believes economic damage could have been even worse if the pandemic struck 10 years earlier.
The industry added £84m to the economy in 2011.
We could have been looking at an even more sobering figure.”
Mr Piper said: “When you look at the economic impact, it would be more frightening if it struck 10 years ago.
“The effect of Covid has cost the industry £80m.
“We could have been looking at an even more sobering figure.”
Are there reasons to be upbeat about the Moray tourism industry’s recovery?
Despite the alarming figures, Mr Piper added: “The message is the region is well-placed to bounce back as we have the outdoor space, self-catering and capacity.
“It has been our saving grace that the industry is stronger, having experienced an uptake sustained over the past five years.”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said the figures “starkly” illustrated how hard the pandemic had hit the tourism sector.
But he believes the region’s tourism industry can bounce back.
Mr Lochhead said: “I have no doubt whatsoever that all being well the sector will bounce back in the year ahead particularly given the multi-million pound investment from the whisky industry in visitor centres and other tourism investments.”
Federation of Small Businesses development manager David Groundwater added: “The slump recorded in this report largely mirrors the results of a recent FSB survey conducted across Moray and the wider Highlands and Islands Enterprise area.
“Tourism will be vital to rebuilding our local economy in Moray as we ease out of the pandemic.
“But the lack of visitors, especially those from overseas, together with things like significant staff shortages and the need to repay debts built up over the pandemic, are real worries for many.”
More reading about tourism …