A dynamic new partnership body has been created to responsibly boost tourism in Orkney over the next seven years as the industry locally continues to witness significant growth.

The recent Islands Visitor Surveyshowed that Orkney welcomed over 170,000 visitors last year, not counting the many more cruise liner passengers who also chose to spend time in the islands. Visitors to Orkney contribute around £50 million to the local economy.

Historically, tourism in Orkney has been co-ordinated by an Area Tourism Partnership. However, partnership members agreed last year to transform what was principally a consultative and information-sharing group into a more dynamic and integrated body, Destination Orkney, with the former Orkney Tourism Group (OTG) at its core.

Principal partners in the new body include Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Destination Orkney.

The partnership will now seek to implement an action plan under the direction of its new chief executive, Kate Lewington, whose post is being jointly funded by Destination Orkney, Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and LEADER.

Kate Lewington, the new chief executive of Destination Orkney.Image by Fionn McArthur, Start Point Media-2
Kate Lewington, Destination Orkney’s new chief executive. Image by Fionn McArthur.

Destination Orkney’s chair, Gareth Crichton, said, “The creation of this new body marks a step change for Orkney’s tourism sector, and it is great to see so many organisations coming together for the good of the partnership, and the islands. We also have, in Kate Lewington, a very capable chief executive. We’re now well positioned and able to take a more dynamic, strategic and focused approach to tourism management in Orkney – an approach that will ensure as many local communities as possible can benefit.”

Kate, who started in post as CEO of Destination Orkney at the beginning of June, brings over 20 years of business management experience across the public and private sectors to her new role. She has particular expertise in leadership, strategy development and implementation, and relationship management.

Hailing from the South West of England, Kate worked in hospitality management for ten years, as well as being director of a Grade-I listed gothic mansion. Her various senior management roles have been complemented by an MBA and Psychology BSc (Hons).

With full responsibility for the leadership and development of Destination Orkney, Kate will play a key role in forming the strategic direction, stakeholder engagement and future partnership planning of tourism in Orkney.

She said: “I am very excited about this new opportunity and greatly looking forward to leading Destination Orkney, while developing a responsible plan for the future of Orkney as the natural choice for discerning visitors seeking a world-class experience. It is a true honour to join the current team who are clearly absolutely devoted to tourism in Orkney.”

Members of the new Destination Orkney tourism partnership meeting for the first time in Kirkwall. Image by Fionn McArthur, Start Point Media-2
Members of the new Destination Orkney partnership. Image by Fionn McArthur.
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