A North-east MP has highlighted the importance of tourism to Aberdeenshire after a UK Government response to a parliamentary question detailed the massive economic boost from visitors each year.
Recent statistics show the tourism sector directly employed more than 8,000 people and contributed £166million in Gross Value Added (GVA) – a measure of contribution to the economy.
A survey by VisitScotland also indicated that 16% of tourists who come to Scotland visit the Aberdeenshire area, and 13% stay overnight.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie asked the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley about the value of tourism to the area.
Mr Bowie’s constituency covers Deeside communities including Ballater and Braemar and takes in major attractions such as Balmoral Castle.
The MP has spoken previously about the need for diversification in the local economy to prepare for the eventual decline in North Sea oil.
He said: “These figures clearly show the huge importance of tourism to the economy here in Aberdeenshire.
“Visitors coming to this area spend millions of pounds every year, supporting a wide range of local businesses.
“There are also thousands of jobs that directly depend on our thriving tourism sector.”
Mr Bowie added: “Areas like Royal Deeside and coastal towns including Stonehaven are destinations in their own right, but we can and should be doing more to promote what our region has to offer.
“The North East 250 is one example of a positive initiative that should help boost visitor numbers even further.
“It is important that we do all we can to promote the tourism industry, as this will be one of the key areas of our local economy in the future as we look to a life
beyond oil and gas.”