Executive Summary

The Value of Tourism Expenditure related to the East of Scotland Bottlenose Dolphin Population

E1. This report summarises the findings of a visitor survey conducted at dolphin-oriented locations on the east coast of Scotland in summer and autumn in 2009. Total direct expenditures currently related to the bottlenose dolphin population are estimated to be at least £10.4 million, but around one third of these would potentially be spent elsewhere in Scotland even in the absence of opportunities to see these dolphins. On an indicative estimate adjusting for additionality, the total income from direct tourism expenditure in Scotland reliant solely on the presence of the east of Scotland bottlenose dolphin population is therefore considered to be at least £4 million, providing approximately 202 Full Time Equivalent jobs.

E2. Due to resource constraints, this survey was centred on well known dolphin viewing locations, with adjustments for other areas. The bulk of dolphin tourist expenditure is received by general tourist providers around the Moray Firth region, particularly Highland (61.3%) and Moray (14.2%); around 10% is received further south by Aberdeenshire (4.5%), Angus and Dundee (3.9%), and Fife (2.6%), with the remainder (13.4%) spread throughout other areas of Scotland. An estimated 46,200 overnight visitors to the premiere dolphin viewing locations around Highland and Grampian consider dolphins at least important in their decision to visit, with an additional 6000 considering dolphins important in Angus and Fife. Of this total of 52,200, 17,100 visitors (33%) considered seeing dolphins really the main reason for their visit. Estimates are based on a 526 person survey of visitors to recognised dolphin viewing locations and centres principally around the Moray Firth.

E3. Overnight visitors with an interest in the bottlenose dolphins spend on average £413 per trip and stay in Scotland for 9.5 days. Around 64% of these visitors visit only the east coast to see dolphins, and spend £325 on an 8 day visit; whilst 36% of visitors visit both east and west coasts and spend £565 on a 12.5 day visit. More than 80% of visitors have occupations typically classified as professional, administrative and managerial (ABC1). The majority of visitors (55%) come in the peak summer months (June, July and August) with the remainder (45%) in the shoulder months (principally April, May, September and October).

E4. The majority of visitors in the peak season are from the UK outside Scotland (69%), but Scottish visitors are more highly represented in the off-peak period (38%). Overseas visitors comprise a relatively small segment (15%) of visitors, and are slightly less likely to be interested in dolphins than UK visitors. On average visitors in the peak season are more represented by families with children staying for 7 or 14 day visits, whilst off-peak visitors tend to be slightly older and are more likely to stay for short breaks rather than main holidays.

E5. Overall 70% of visitors staying for at least one week and having dolphins as the main reason for their visit succeeded in seeing dolphins by the end of their trip. 85% of all visitors to dolphin-oriented locations would recommend the area to others, and 79% of visitors for whom dolphins were at least important in their decision to visit thought they would try to visit again in the future. In total 23% of visitors were staying extra nights on the east coast to try to see dolphins, and 17% of visitors with an interest in dolphins took a marine wildlife boat trip during their visit.

E6. It is evident that the economic importance of the bottlenose dolphin population to Scotland's tourism economy is due to creating a holiday destination focal point, with subsequent spending by a significant number (52,200) of overnight visitors. Sustainable management around the dolphin population should try to ensure that businesses opportunities reliant on boat trips are sensitively developed to prevent potential disturbance to the population, whilst encouraging initiatives related to land-based observation and information activities promoting dolphins around the geographical range of the population.