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Article published 05/08/2022

What's included in this update

Find out about our recent activity to support tourism recovery for Shetland. From industry support to new campaigns and PR activity, read on for the latest tourism updates.

Introduction from Development Manager, Steve Mathieson

Regional Director Steve MathiesonAfter two years of the Covid   pandemic devastating   tourism in Shetland, we are   now at last experiencing a   full season with all restrictions lifted. There are still challenges to face on a local, national and worldwide scale but overall, the picture is positive with visitors, including international, arriving in healthy numbers once more.


The Shetland tourism industry has shown great resilience over the past two years with some great partnership projects which are now coming to fruition.   

The Hermaness project in Unst, run by NatureScot, Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland has now completed, with 2km of new boardwalk, a new interpretive centre and toilet block; while Scalloway Comunity Development Company’s new camping/caravanning site at Asta will be operational before the end of the season. Both projects received Rural Tourism Infrastructure Funding, which is administered by VisitScotland and designed to support projects to meet increasing visitor demand and ensure that this doesn’t impact negatively on local communities.


Studies are underway in Shetland for two very exciting additions to Shetland tourism. A visitor potential survey has been commissioned to gauge the likely interest in the new Saxavord Spaceport and a feasibility study is underway into creating a long-distance walking route, funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and led by VisitScotland.


Series Seven of the BBC “Shetland” detective drama will give a late-summer bounce to tourism, while the recent Promote Shetland “Find your True North” campaign, funded by VisitScotland’s Sector and Destination Marketing Fund, and the joint campaign between Northlink, Promote Shetland and VisitScotland has kept the islands highly visible to potential visitors.


Shetland Folk FestivalIt was great to welcome back in-person events when the Shetland Folk Festival was able to celebrate its 40th anniversary in April, with plenty more events throughout the year including UnstFest, Shetland Wool Week and the Taste of Shetland Food Festival. Planning is already underway for two major festivals in 2023, Tall Ships Lerwick and Shetland Noir. Cruise ships have also returned in good numbers, with 2022 set to be a record year.



Tourism is leading the economic recovery in Shetland and the VisitScotland team in Lerwick look forward to giving Shetland’s traditional warm welcome to those who come to appreciate the amazing landscape, history, culture, wildlife and freedom the islands offer.  

VisitScotland’s regional team are happy to help, please get in touch with your enquiry at


Spirit of the Highlands and Islands campaign 

Rob Dickson attending the campaign launch

Vicki Miller and Rob Dickson at the Spirit campaign launch

A new campaign which highlights the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands was launched in June - we're supporting through a contribution of £125,000 and delivery of the consumer marketing campaign.

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project seeks to encourage visitors to explore and experience the more remote and rural parts of the Highlands and Islands. 

It aims to inspire visitors to support local events, festivals, workshops, visitor attractions and outdoor locations across the Highlands and Scotland's many islands.

Read the full story for more about the project delivery.


This project will focus on the whole of the Highlands and Islands - with a particular spotlight on the less-visited rural areas – bringing benefits right across the region.

Our aim is to enhance the region’s reputation for outstanding natural and cultural beauty, to grow capacity by encouraging seasonal and geographical spread and inspire deeper engagement with our distinctive heritage and authentic connections with our rural communities.

The impact of tourism spreads far beyond the industry itself - it benefits our economy, our community and our wellbeing.

Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing, VisitScotland

Marketing update

Our marketing teams continue to promote Shetland helping Scottish tourism recover as quickly as possible, in a responsible way. Here's a couple of examples of our key activity for Shetland this quarter.


Shetland Pony


Marketing activity featuring Shetland

Scotland's Year of Stories 2022

Celtic Connections festival

Celtic Connections Festival


This year, Scotland is celebrating Scotland's Year of Stories. This themed year spotlights, celebrates and promotes the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.

From icons of literature to local tales, the year aims to encourage locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present. 

There's lots of information available on our website,, to help you make the most of Scotland's Year of Stories 2022. Take a look at our promotional film, industry toolkit, and the events which are taking place across the year.


Sheltand's Year of Stories 2022 events

Tall Ships Races 2023

Tall ships image

Tall Ships, Lerwick


The one year to go countdown has begun as Lerwick prepares to host the Tall Ships Races from 26 – 29 July 2023.

The countdown activity began with a drop-in launch event planned exactly 12 months before the fleet sails into Lerwick Harbour, which was held in Shetland Museum and Archives auditorium, on Tuesday 26 July.

There are many exciting ways to get involved with the Tall Ships Races 2023 including volunteering, sponsorship opportunites or even sailing. Read the full story in our new section

Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund - Hermaness Boardwalk

Hermaness Boardwalk project

Hermaness Boardwalk project


In May, the new Hermaness Boardwalk project launched around NatureScot's Hermaness National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Shetland. 

The work has been funded by £580,704 from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund £286,300 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and £19,857 from NatureScot.

The new hill path and welcome area has been officially opened, and will allow visitors to enjoy nearly 2 kilometres of new boardwalk, which retraces the historic path to Muckle Flugga signalling station on Hermaness Hill, and creates a circular route around the reserve. 

To learn more about the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, find out more on 

And read on in our news section for more information on the Hermaness Boardwalk project.


The value of screen tourism

Douglas Henshall staring in Shetland tv show

Douglas Hensall, Shetland actor


Screen Scotland has published the first comprehensive study of its kind evidencing the value of Scotland’s film and TV industries to the country.

The new independent report finds that the screen sector in Scotland contributed £567.6million to Scotland’s economy in 2019, providing 10,280 full time equivalent jobs.   

With the season seven of Shetland set to appear on our screens in August, the programme remains ever popular. It's filmed in multiple locations across Shetland and Scotland.

The full Economic Value of the Screen Sector in Scotland report is available to download from Screen Scotland website, alongside an accompanying summary report.

This is a welcome report from Screen Scotland which uses our own research and that of VisitBritain to estimate the economic value of screen tourism to Scotland for the first time.

Film and television productions are a shop window for the country’s amazing landscapes, heritage and culture. They provide inspiration for viewers to visit – we call those visitors ‘set-jetters’ – sometimes years after the production’s release. This long-term nature of screen tourism allows for the continual development of new visitor experiences and support for our regional economies.

Malcolm Roughead OBE, Chief Executive of VisitScotland

Business focus - Garths Croft Bressay

Garth Croft Bressay

Owner Chris Dyer, Garths Croft Bressay

As part of our Shetland social media takeover, we spoke to Chris Dyer, owner of Garths Croft Bressay, about sustainability, agricultural tourism and the importance of providing authentic experiences for visitors to Shetland.

The Croft has been run by Chris Dyer, and his family, since purchasing it in 2014. Chris is a professional archaeologist, working for more than twenty years on a wide variety of heritage projects.

Read about Garths Croft Bressay and their focus on sustainable tourism.

Boating tourism in Scotland survey

Boat in Shetland

Sixareen Vaila Mae


The Boating Tourism in Scotland survey is undertaken every six years and provides vital evidence on how the sailing and leisure boating tourism sector is performing in Scotland.    

They are gathering information on the sailing and leisure boating market and issues that will affect its future success.

The questionnaires ask for information about your current capacity and level of demand and should take around 20 minutes to complete. Here are the links to the two surveys available:


Related links