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Tourism boost for Scotland following orienteering extravaganza

Press Release   •   Dec 14, 2015 15:57 GMT

Scotland is set for an influx in visits from orienteering enthusiasts following the highly successful hosting of the World Orienteering Championships (WOC) in the Highlands and Moray earlier this year.

This landmark event was staged concurrently with Highland 2015, the 20th edition of the biennial Scottish 6 Days race, and this combination was met with widespread approval amongst participants and spectators.

Indeed, in being surveyed post-event, 82% of participants indicated they would be either very likely or likely to attend the Scottish 6 Days in future years while an even greater number of competitors (86%) felt that Highland 2015 had been a positive showcase for the sport of orienteering. 

And, in a further boost for Scottish tourism, three-quarters (75%) of respondents stated an intention to return to Scotland as part of a holiday in the future, while scenes from the event were televised live across Europe and the USA, each of which represent potentially significant legacy benefits from this summer’s orienteering extravaganza.

Taking place between 31 July and 8 August, the international races welcomed a vast number of overseas visitors, generating an impressive £9.4 million for Scotland’s economy, according to an independent economic impact assessment carried out by Glasgow-based EKOS Limited.

A combined total of 8,117 participants and spectators travelled to the north of Scotland over the nine days, with 93% originating from outside of the local authority areas and 86% from outside of Scotland. Given that the majority of visitors participated in either the Scottish 6 Days or WOC2015, the reliability of all associated figures is exceptionally high.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism and MSP for Inverness and Nairn, said:

“The Scottish 6 Days and World Orienteering Championships in 2015 were a massive success, both locally and for Scotland as a whole, generating millions of pounds for the economy. For the Highlands and tourism in the Highlands, these championships were one of the most successful events in living memory.

“This was achieved through Scottish Government funding, administered by EventScotland via the International Events Programme, which is absolutely vital in continuing to attract high-profile international events that deliver clear and substantial benefits to the country.

“It is particularly exciting that this year’s Championships saw so many overseas visitors taking part as either spectators or participants and that they left with so many good things to say about Scotland, greatly increasing the potential for them to return with friends and relatives in the future.”

Given the strength of attendance in 2015, organisers of the Scottish 6 Days also hope to see a greater number of entries for the 2017 edition, which will take place in Deeside. Plans are already in hand and the event will be advertised at home and abroad during 2016.

The overall success of the event reflects excellent governance and collaborative working among a number of partner organisations in bringing the WOC2015 to Scotland, including Scottish Orienteering, British Orienteering, Highland and Moray Councils and EventScotland, a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

Dr Mike Cantlay OBE, Chairman of VisitScotland, who competed in orienteering for Scotland in his youth, took part in a media race during Scottish 6 Days. He said:

“Scotland has shown once again it can compete on the global stage by hosting prestigious events such as Highland 2015 and the World Orienteering Championships, which attract people from all over the world and generate millions of pounds for Scotland’s vital visitor economy – supporting communities and creating jobs.

“The success of these high-profile events is a testament to the accomplished work of the Highlands in hosting complex large-scale events with multiple venues.

“Orienteering is a sport close to my heart, so it was a privilege to attend the events and a joy to take part in the Highland 2015 media race and experience the thrill of orienteering again.”

Mike Hamilton, Chief Executive, British Orienteering, said:

“The combined World Orienteering Championships and Scottish 6 Days orienteering event brought many competitors, officials and spectators to Scotland this year.

“Feedback we received demonstrated that everyone had thoroughly enjoyed the orienteering as well as their experience of Scotland and Scottish culture. We are delighted to hear that many of the visitors surveyed have indicated that they will be returning!

“We are also very pleased that the belief in orienteering shown by the Scottish Government through their support enabled us to deliver the event so successfully and with such a strong return for Scotland and the areas local to the event.”

Roger Scrutton, President, Scottish Orienteering Association, said:

“Scotland is a natural venue for orienteering, attracting UK and overseas visitors because of the variety of high-quality terrains it offers for the athletes to run in.  Scottish Orienteering is delighted to be able to contribute to the Scottish Government’s agenda for adventure tourism.

“We are extremely grateful for EventScotland’s support over many years and, specifically, support for the enormously successful World Orienteering Championships and Highland 2015.”

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