Sandwick, a district on the east coast of Shetland’s south mainland, has seen local businesses and culture thrive in recent years. Its popularity with visitors, and the spirit of the community, has been crucial in creating a place bursting with energy – showcasing its heritage but adapting for the future.
Before COVID-19, the number of visitors to the island had been rising, partly due to an increase in cruise visitors and people attracted by screen tourism. Community-led action has revived and improved the Visitor Centre in Hoswick, housed in a former weaving centre, which offers a space both locals and visitors use. Funding came through a variety of sources including LEADER, the Council, HIE and the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which provided funds for bike, car and coach parking for visitors.
Business is thriving in Sandwick too, with arts, crafts and textiles doing particularly well. Craft sales are increasing 30% per year, as makers share their locally made products with visitors. As one of the centres of textiles on the island, traditional crafts are being kept alive and reinvented for future generations. This success also provides job opportunities for local people and has caused older buildings to be revived – making the area a thriving and dynamic place to be.
Jeweller Karlin Anderson grew up in Shetland and, following a move away, made a return after seeing all the benefits of running her jewellery business from Hoswick.
While living in London and thinking about how to expand my business I had a lot of things to consider – cost of premises, ability to reach customers with a unique selling point, support of community and work life balance. It was really difficult for me to see how I could expand my business in the way I wanted, considering all of these.
It was while being home in Shetland for Christmas one year that I got speaking to Rosemary Inkster of Sandwick Social and Economic Development, and I got to see the opportunities of moving my business to the village of Hoswick in Sandwick. Shetland is growing in popularity as a tourist spot both with independent travellers and cruise ships alike.
The existing footfall to the small village in Hoswick due to location, history and the collective pull of the other businesses already based here, meant that basing my business in Hoswick solidified it as a destination to visit. Hoswick being a functioning community where people live and work meant that even before I moved here, I felt extremely supported as an individual as well as a business.
The beautiful location and the outstanding scenery means that finding a work life balance here is so much easier. In the end, it was a no brainer. Moving myself and my business to Shetland has been the best move I have made and I am excited to see what the future holds as tourism opens up and the community gets back to a new normal of living and working.
How you can get involved
Tourism is an economic and social powerhouse for Scotland. It creates wealth and social benefits in every corner of the country and enhances the wellbeing of everyone who takes a holiday at home. For more information on all strands of this project and how you can get involved visit our #tourismforceforgood page.