Aberdeenshire tourism will “lose momentum at a critical time” after funding cuts

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Fears have been raised that Aberdeenshire could lose £600,000 in tourism money after vital funding is cut from the local authority budget.

The Conservative administration’s proposal approved yesterday included a number of cuts to various services in a bid to bridge a £66.8m funding gap.

This included a £50,000 cut to support VisitAberdeenshire.

The tourism agency is funded by Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire City Councils, along with the North Eastern Opportunity Economic Development Partnership.

But members of the opposition spoke out against the plan and urged the administration to reconsider it.

SNP Councilor Seamus Logan said reducing his support was an “miscalculation”.

He noted that the tourism industry was hit hard by the pandemic and is now in “recovery mode”.

Mr Logan explained that canceled events due to coronavirus have resulted in hotels, bars, restaurants and visitor attractions losing “significantly” in trade.

The CEO, Chris Foy, had previously told board members that the agency would lose vital match funding as a result of the cut.

This means there will be a £100,000 reduction in VisitAberdeenshire’s budget.

From day-trippers and golfers, to cruise ships, tour bus operators and conference organizers, the area can see a wide range of potential visitors lose sight of.

Logan went on to explain that the company’s campaigns contribute an estimated £6 into the local economy for every pound spent.

He said: “The direct impact of this reduction will be at least £600,000 that visitors will not spend this summer at a time when tour operators are struggling to break even.”

“Tourism will lose momentum at a critical time.”

Logan went on to say that the administration’s plan to cut funding was “illogical, counterproductive, and simply wrong.”

He said VisitAberdeenshire was doing its best to show the region, and highlighted that the company’s recent PR activity had reached 116m people globally.

Her work helped secure 26 national travel benefits, including two in the telegraph.

One looked at Aberdeenshire’s role in tackling climate change while the other focused on cycling through the region’s beautiful countryside.

He also praised the Channel 4 programme, Best of British by the Sea, presented by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott and restaurant critic Grace Dent.

In one episode, the couple took a trip to the Northeast to sample the region’s best food from fresh, locally sourced seafood to shortbread and butter.

They stopped at Gardenstown, Troup Head, Macduff and Thorneybank Farm Shop in Inverurie and Douneside House in Royal Deeside.

Meanwhile, leading lifestyle magazine Good Housekeeping has named Aberdeenshire its best holiday destination for 2023.

However, the SNP pledged to protect funding in its opposition budget.

Mark Findlater and Gwyneth Petrie
Mark Findlater and Gwyneth Petrie

“We are doing this this year in the hope that we can see continued and improved engagement on their part with communities across Aberdeenshire,” said group board member Gwyneth Petrie.

The party hopes that the funding will go hand in hand with the ongoing work aimed at improving the tourism offer across the region.

But addressing Mr Logan, council leader Mark Findlater said VisitAberdeenshire “plays a huge part in the overall scheme of things”.

But he told the Chamber that the local authority should recognize its work with other partnerships.

These include VisitScotland, the private regional partners, as well as its own Live Life Aberdeenshire.

The tourism agency recently faced the loss of an additional £160,000 in funding from Aberdeen City Council through proposed budget cuts.

But the partnership between SNP and Lib Dem has thrown a lifeline and has chosen to retain its support.

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