The return of Stranraer Oyster Festival last month generated an additional £1.7 million for the local economy, according to an independent economic impact report. The study, which was carried out by MKA Economics, also noted that this level of visitor spend should help to safeguard 25 tourism related local jobs.
The three-day festival took place on the first weekend of September, the start of the UK’s native oyster season. Despite extreme weather warnings and torrential rain, the festival attracted more than 18,000 people to the scenic harbour town on the shore of Loch Ryan, home to Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery.
The economic impact research identified that 87% of visitors were in the area as a direct result of the festival, and noted increases in the numbers of visitors staying in the area, as well as increases in average duration of stay, compared with the 2019 event.
Researchers also analysed the impact of the festival on participating local businesses and found traders reported individual economic impacts of up to £10k each. Half (49%) of traders said that the town’s hosting of the festival encouraged them to think about new ways to develop or promote their business, product or service.
Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation behind the oyster festival, said:
“These are truly remarkable figures. I think we can say, without any shadow of a doubt, that the oyster festival is now the main catalyst for economic change and destination development in Stranraer. For a three day event to have such a significant impact on our local economy is a testament to the passion and the hard work of our community. And to have achieved this in the face of extraordinarily bad weather is simply incredible.”
Romano added: “This event was created by our community to celebrate our place, our produce and our people. We care very deeply about this town, and that care is what has elevated this festival to become a driver for economic change.
Success despite the weather
“As a community we had to wait a long time for the return of our festival after the pandemic, and when the weather forecasters issued their warnings of extreme weather disruption over the festival weekend, my heart sank. So it was humbling indeed to watch people disregarding the torrential rain, filling the waterfront marquees and having an absolutely fantastic time.
“I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this event – from each and every one of our wonderful volunteers to our amazing funders and sponsors. It shows what we can achieve when we work together towards a shared vision. I am so, so proud of this community.”
Launched in 2017, Stranraer Oyster Festival is credited with changing the story of Stranraer, from one of economic deprivation to one of potential. Taking place from 2nd – 4th September, the 2022 festival programme featured numerous demonstrations and events, including by celebrity chefs Clodagh McKenna and Tony Singh. The festival was sponsored by Ascensos and was supported through EventScotland’s National Events Funding Programme and Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund.
Festival sees positive growth
The economic impact report concluded:
The 2022 festival once again celebrated the local produce and the coastal heritage of South West Scotland, and attracted a total of 18,000 visitors, compared to 17,000 in 2019, 14,000 in 2018 and the 10,000 in 2017. This is an impressive growth rate over a four year period.
The net additional economic impact of visitor spend as a result of the Stranraer Oyster Festival was 6% higher than that reported in 2019, in the region of £1.7million. This is an impressive growth trend, considering it has maintained growth over four years, as well as the inclement weather, 2 year lay-off and ongoing cost of living crisis.