Impact on Tourism

Annex – Impact on Tourism



One of South Ayrshire Council’s planning visions is to be recognised as having one of the most attractive and safe environments in Scotland managed in a sustainable fashion, for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors:


South Ayrshire Council Local Plan says “Tourism is recognised as being a vital and traditional element of the South Ayrshire economy.  An aim of this Local Plan is to maximise tourism potential whilst recognising the importance of environmental sustainability.  Accordingly, the Council has adopted a positive approach which encourages and directs development and activity to areas best able to sustain visitor pressure, where potential environmental problems will be minimal “and also” Land outwith settlements are subjected to a wide range of development pressures, many of an urban nature, and this gives the impression of a strong and vibrant local economy.  The Council recognises that this masks specific problems of pockets of high unemployment, land dereliction, low levels of public transport and limited access to services and facilities.  These problems are more acutely evident in the southern part of South Ayrshire.”


Much of the economy in this part of South Ayrshire depends on tourism.  Recent major developments have all been visitor or tourism related, for example Souter Jonnies and the House of Burns in Kirkoswald, Craigie Mains Home and Garden Centre, Pebbles Park and SPA, the Ayrshire Coastal Path, Woodlands Bay Hotel and Farm Shop, Erection of Varyag Memorial, Glen App Castle and Holiday Cottages at Ballantrae Harbour.  Many people rely on bed and breakfast or holiday letting to generate income.


A main premise of the Ayrshire joint Structure Plan is that Ayrshire’s environment is a key to its future economic performance and therefore how Ayrshire looks is of particular importance.  In certain areas a more cautious approach to development is appropriate and two such areas are Sensitive Character Landscape Areas and Habitats and features which compliment the Natura 2000 network.  Development which compromise objectives or overall integrity of the regional and local natural heritage and biodiversity designations will not be supported.


Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan – supplementary planning guidance which supports Econ 6 and 7 in the Joint structure Plan and which is a material consideration and should be given significant weight when dealing with planning applications says that tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy of Ayrshire and has potential for significant growth.  At the heart of this growth is environmental quality, increasingly seen as a key economic driver, and which requires to be protected and enhanced.  It is therefore important that the planning system puts in place safeguards which protect important tourist assets from inappropriate development.  These assets include coastal communities and regionally significant tourist resources such as nature 2000 sites and sensitive landscape character areas.  Development which has a significantly adverse impact on tourism and recreational interests will not be supported.


It is difficult to measure the impact of wind farms on tourism.  There is little published research on the effects of tourism and developments in the most sensitive sites have not been permitted so in areas where there may have been some real measurable effect the impact has not become a real outcome which was capable of being measured.


The Scottish Government commissioned research which was carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University in 2007 on whether wind farms in Scotland are likely to have an economic impact -either positive or negative – on Scottish Tourism.  The research was published in March 2008 and will be referred to as “the Research”.


The overall findings of the Research is that if the tourism and renewable industries work together to ensure suitably sized wind farms sensitively sited, whilst at the same time affording parts of Scotland protection from development, then the impacts on anticipated growth paths are expected to be so small that there is no reason to believe that Scottish Government targets for both sectors are incompatible.


In terms of economic impact the Research concluded that potential effect on tourism expenditure associated with meeting renewable targets, via substantial wind farm development, will mean that by 2015 there will be £4.7 million less gross value added in the Scottish economy than there would have been in the absence of any wind farms. this effect is offset by other economic impacts of wind farms.


A study by Wild Scotland in 2006 showed that 61% of operators in Scotland felt that wind farms would have a negative impact on tourism.


Activity Scotland survey in 2006 revealed that 88% of operators believed that the impact of wind farms would be negative on tourism.


Wilderness Scotland in 2005 showed that 91% would not return to the highlands of Scotland if wind farms were developed in a significant way.


It is important to note that the Research is national research and recognises that areas with fewer wind farms are likely to see greater increases in tourism than they would otherwise and this acts to offset slower growth in other parts of the country.  Only a negligible number of tourists would change their decision to visit Scotland as a WHOLE – some people may continue to visit Scotland even if they are put off a particular area.


There was evidence to show that individuals placed a greater value on landscape when a wind farm is not included in the view than when it is.


The Research raises some points of particular interest when considering the proposal at Lendalfoot:


The loss of value when moving from medium to large developments is not great.  It is the original intrusion into the landscape which generates loss of value to tourists.


From a tourism standpoint larger developments are preferable to a number of smaller developments particularly when they occur in the same general area.


Given that tourists who do find turbines to be objectionable are likely to move to another area of Scotland it is important to ensure substitution opportunities where turbine development is limited.


Local planning authorities may wish to consider the following factors to ensure that any adverse local impact on tourism are minimised:


  1. the number of tourists travelling past a site en route to elsewhere
  2. views from accommodation in the area
  3. relative scale of tourism
  4. potential positives associated with the development
  5. the views of tourist organisations i.e. local businesses or Visit Scotland


Paragraph 13.7 of the Research under the heading Protection of Wilderness Areas suggests that certain areas including National Parks should be afforded protection from wind farms and areas of Great Landscape Value should also be areas afforded protection from wind farms. Scottish Executive Rural Group: Paper 2006-2  “Enhancing our care of Scotland’s landscapes” delineates areas as of “Great Landscape Value”.  The site of the wind farm is in such an area.


The Research noted that the exposed nature of the Braes of Doune wind farm and its location on the most important tourist artery north of the central belt would appear to maximise negative reactions.  Paragraph 14.7 of the conclusion to the Research says that it is a reasonable hypothesis that the location of a wind farm that can be viewed from a major tourist route should be avoided.  In an application for Knoweside Hill Visit Scotland commented on 03/05/11 highlighting the importance of tourism to the area and raised specific concern about the impact on an important tourism corridor which is the coastal route through South Ayrshire.


Visit Scotland Tourism Attitudes Survey from 2007 rates “scenery” and “natural environment” as the main attractions.  These factors have consistently been the most important reasons for choosing Scotland as a holiday destination over a number of years.  They are also the factors in which Scotland performs best.  92% of visitors rate scenery as most important factor in choosing Scotland as a holiday destination.




Tourist facts taken from “Visitor Economy of Ayrshire – The present profile and future opportunities” report by Policy, Performance and Communications for the Ayrshire Tourism Strategy Implementation Group


  1. The number of visitor trips made to Ayrshire has declined by 8% since 2006.


  1. It has a limited number of key attractions, so that it is dependent on the area’s inland and coastal scenery, together with the opportunities for outdoor activities.


  1. Area’s visitor base is both stagnating and ageing.


  1. The area is perceived by visitors to have beautiful scenery.


  1. In the last decade, the position is essentially unchanged.



  1. Scottish Executive (2000).  A New Strategy for Scottish Tourism, between January and September, South Ayrshire attracted 1.29m visitors of which 0.77m were day trippers; for the comparable period in 2009, 1.18m visitors, of which 0.66m were day trippers, visited the area.


  1. To reverse the slide in visitor numbers, Ayrshire needs to identify what its comparative advantage is in terms of tourism and the type of visitors that it is seeking to attract.  As identified in the Visit Scotland’s Ayrshire & Arran Visitor Survey for 2008-09, visitors associate the area with Burns, golf, horse-racing and the sea.  This would suggest that these form the pillars on which to expand visitor numbers.


  1. The survey also showed that the area’s scenery and landscape were the most important attractions as regards visiting the area for both day visitors and tourists and were also the aspects that had the highest satisfaction rating.


  1. 5% of tourists (6,500 people) to Ayrshire were reported to visit the area for the main purposes of hill-walking and 2% (2,600 people) came to study wildlife.  The steady ageing of the population and the growing size of the retired population is expected to increase the number of domestic walking holidays taken.


10. As much as 50% of the overseas tourist income of Ayrshire & Arran appears to be generated in South Ayrshire.


11. For overseas tourists, the area’s image is bound up with Burns, golf and the coastal scenery.


12. In South Ayrshire tourism-related employment accounts for 12% of all local employment; the comparable figures are 8% for North Ayrshire and 5% for East Ayrshire.  In total Visit Scotland estimates that about 13,500 in Ayrshire depend for employment on the Visitor Economy.  Of these about 8800 were directly employed in tourism-related businesses.