Times are tough for some as cost of fuel hits visitor numbers

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A number of hotel owners in Deeside and Donside have been struggling to attract visitors this summer.

They say that the amount of people visiting the area is much lower than in previous years with the high price of petrol and bad weather thought to be keeping people away.

Paul McLennan, owner of the Colquhonnie House Hotel and the convener of Central Aberdeenshire’s Licensing forum, admits it is a tough time for rural businesses.

“It has been quieter than last year, without a doubt,” he said.

“I’m not too sure why but the poor weather has played its part and the price of fuel has also had a declining factor on rural places.

“There have not been many foreign tourists coming to visit and maybe this has something to do with the state of the economy in other parts of the world.

“An example was the Tomintoul games a few weeks ago. We are usually very busy but this year we were deserted. It is a very concerning time because it seems people don’t want to spend money.”

Darren Gimber, who is the owner of the Kildrummy Inn, agrees this summer has been quieter than usual.

He said: “There isn’t as much traffic on the road. We are doing okay but there are not as many people coming through which could be due to the price of fuel.

“We are making our targets but the restaurant has not been as busy as it usually is and we haven’t seen as many tourists visiting.”

The Glenernan Guest House in Ballater enjoyed a good start to the summer but has struggled during the month of July.

Owner Denise Farringdon said: “May and June were fine but it seems as if someone has switched off the lights in July because it has been pretty poor in terms of numbers.

“The village in general has seemed quiet and there haven’t been many overseas visitors, so I think a lot of people are in the same situation.

“Short breaks abroad are now being offered at ridiculously low prices so I think a lot of people have decided to take advantage of that rather than stay in the country.”

George Stevenson of the Invercauld caravan club site in Braemar said this was his “worst summer in six years” but the manager of the Silverbank site in Banchory believes they have been just as busy as ever.

Kerry Crow said: “We have had a very good summer season so far with the site often full but there has definitely been a change in the attitude of visitors.

She added: “In previous years we would see people stay for one night before travelling to another part of the country but this year the majority of visitors are staying in one place longer largely because of the price of fuel.”

There was also positive news at the Balmoral Estate where a high number of people have been visiting the Scottish home of the Royal Family.

Garry Marsden, who is the visitor enterprise manager for Balmoral Estate, said: “It has been a very good year so far. There have been a high number of people visiting, with many coming from overseas, particularly from Germany.

“The Royal Wedding has a brought a renewed focus on the Royal Family and also the Balmoral Estate, which is good for us and good for Deeside as a whole.”

And visitor figures were up at other Deeside castles according to the National Trust for Scotland.

A combined total for Craigievar, Drum, Castle Fraser and Crathes Castle attracted 30,925 people to the end of June, up from 24,865 in 2010.

Communications Manager Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr said: “A great Easter week, with a cracking weekend at each end of it helped, in comparison with a wet Easter 2010.”