Oil Leak 110 The value of our environment?

Estimates of the value of the environment and wildlife to Scotland vary, however, according to the Scottish Tourist Alliance:

“Nature and activities have been identified as one of Scotland’s key tourism assets in the national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020, and opportunities to grow this sector are a key part of the sector’s ambition to increase visitor spend by at least £1bn by 2020. Within the nature-based tourism sector, wildlife tourism is an important part of the tourism industry with an economic impact of £127m per year and 1.12 million trips are made each year to or within Scotland for the primary purpose of viewing wildlife.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise are part of a working group of marine tourism industry leaders and user groups supported by the public agencies and enterprise bodies developing the Strategic Framework for Scotland’s Marine Tourism Sector. Their vision is stated thus:

“By 2020 we want Scotland to be “A marine tourism destination of first choice for high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience delivered by skilled and passionate people”

Their mission “To develop and lead the growth of sailing tourism in Scotland from £101m of visitor expenditure to £145m by 2020, and to increase the overall economic value of the marine tourism sector from £360m to over £450m by 2020.”

Within the group’s strategy report Awakening the Giant[1] they state:

“Marine tourism is one of Scottish tourism’s sleeping giants with sailing and boating alone already generating over £101m of visitor expenditure and directly supporting the employment of almost 2,730 jobs.”

In a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) study[2], it was suggested that, within Scotland, activities and output dependent on the natural environment contributed £17.2 billion to the national economy (11% of Scotland’s total output), and supported 242,000 jobs, 14% of all FTE employment in the country. In a further SNH study[3] it was estimated that visitor spending from nature-based tourism is £1.4 billion per year, and supports 39,000 jobs in the Scottish economy. In addition to wildlife watching this study also included field sports, walking/mountaineering, snow sports, cycling, water sports, horse riding, adventure activities, conservation work, other specialist interests, and scenery.

In a Scottish Government study it was estimated that wildlife tourism alone contributed £276 million, and 2,763 FTE jobs supported by spending by tourists related to wildlife.[4]

While not being specifically applicable to the Inner Moray Firth, these studies are useful in setting the scene as to the value of our natural heritage to Scotland as a whole. The Moray Firth plays an undeniable and important part of that overall picture – why put all this at risk?


[1] See http://www.hie.co.uk/growth-sectors/tourism/marine-tourism-strategy/deafult.html

[2] Scottish Natural Heritage, 2009, Valuing our Environment.

[3] Bryden et. al., 2010, Assessing the economic impacts of nature based tourism in Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned report No. 398.

[4] International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research: Bournemouth University, 2010, The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland, Scottish Government Social Research.