Thursday 30 July 2009

Scottish Tourism Loses Two Important Routes

The headline is clear enough - Ryanair Add New Routes to Prestwick. Good news for the airport you'd think until the detail reveals that it is an increase in outward facing routes to sun destinations at the loss of Stockholm Skavsta and Frankfurt Hahn.
The loss of these routes are not quite on the level of seven hundred jobs losses at Johnnie Walker but deeply impactful all the same.

Germany and Sweden have provided Ayrshire hotels and golf courses with substantial business over the past five years and the loss of these routes is going to have a serious impact on the revenues of a significant number of hotels and golf courses.

The long term worry is that Prestwick will see a permanent shift from inbound routes to outbound. Okay from an airport point of view any direction is good; from an economic point of view however it moves Prestwick from being an "exporter of Scotland" to an importer of sunshine destinations.

That is not the fault of Prestwick nor a criticism but it does reinforce the point made a little less than a fortnight ago that the hospitality businesses in Ayrshire have taken for granted inbound business from Ryanair and Prestwick. Instead of nurturing the markets and establishing business relationships it has sat back and assumed it as a given. The responsibility, the blame lies with all of us involved in developing inbound tourism to Ayrshire.

Now the routes are lost. The economic impacts are indeed going to be very serious for some at what already was looking like a challenging winter season. It makes the forthcoming visit of Jim Mather to discuss the status of Ayrshire as a key strand in Ayrsghire's tourism picture a little more difficult to substantiate.


Anonymous said...

This really is bad news, not only for the South West of Scotland but for Scotland!

Only last week at the SAS Masters in Malmo, Scotland had a big presence. Earlier in the year at tournaments and exhibitions in Germany, Scotland again has had a big presence.

Although some have taken for granted the business coming in from these markets, which have helped in creating a truly 12 month of the year destination. A number of us HAVE invested time and money in developing these markets. Not only with the end consumer, but the operators, media, car companies and airlines in these markets, only for Ryanair to close the routes down when we would hope for them to be at their busiest.

The decision seems ludicrous when we are faced every day with reports that we are increasingly staying at home because of the economy, the exchange rates and the deals that we can find at home. Also for the first time in years Europeans are realising what great value we can offer in Scotland.

However it does beg the question what are the relationships like at the top level of our government and tourist board. Do they just take the relationships with the airlines casually or are they serious about introducing the Scottish product to the world? We see that Spain and Andalucia in particular are realising the state of their tourism right now and are throwing money left right and centre to make sure that people from the UK still visit. What are the chances that Ryanair would have pulled an inbound flight into any of these areas without someone from Spain having something to say about it.

I only hope that when this article filters out, there is a bigger outrage than the comment that came from a VisitScotland spokesman who said: "It is disappointing that routes for some of our important overseas markets have been cancelled. However, important air links still remain with these key inbound destinations"

Come on!! We are losing enough jobs as it is, lets not just stand by and let others go as well.

howardfarm said...

why do people remain anonymous ?

2 weeks ago i flew again to Hahn and coming back on the saturday the plane was more than 90% full
with many Germans and some Austrians on board

so the previous contributor is more than correct

Do we yet know whether the flights are being transferred to Edinburgh ? it could explain the apparent VS indifference

Regarding the meeting with the Tourism minister ,you could argue it strengthens the case for awarding Ayrshire & Arran Key Destination Status

Bring on the avid debate

Otherwise too many Scottish eggs are in too few eastern facing baskets

At least we do not a litter bin strike to put visitors off !!

howard wilkinson said...

Not only Ayrshire - we in Islay have a large number of 'whisky tourists' from Sweden who make their way here via Prestwick and the loss to the island in terms of distillery visitors/ bed night numbers and the losses to other service providers on Islay and elsewhere on the west coast could be very significant - these are markets to encouraged and supported if at all possible.

Anonymous said...

Surely the emphasis should be on increasing flights overall not putting on new flights at the expense of others.

It also appears that Ryanair has dropped its three weekly flights from East Midlands to Inverness without any publicity. From personal experience this makes the journey from northwest Scotland to that area a 10 hour or more instead of a 5 hour journey whatever method of transport one chooses. We like to cater for people taking short breaks, but who is going to do that if they have to travel 10 or more hours.
Not only that, but whaterver one thinks of how Ryan Air structures its fares it is infinitely cheaper and easier than trying to use the train with at least four changes or train/bus and fly from Glasgow.

By all means let us have more routes, but please leave the existing ones to help us meets the challenge of increasing visitor numbers by 50% by 2015.

Unknown said...

Here at Craigard House Hotel, in Campbeltown, we have been gaining large numbers of Swedish and German guests for the past several years, via the Prestwick connection.
Our visitors are a mixture of Golf tourism - with the Machrihanish courses ten minutes from us; Whisky tourism with Springbank and Glen Scotia Distilleries close by; and general tourism - with many Germans in particular simply enjoying the remoteness and beauty of the West Coast.
Losing these two routes from Stockholm and Frankfurt will be bad news for us - and for those inbound tourists who enjoyed their ease of access to Scotland. It will also be bad news for the exchequer, as these tourists tended to be free spending - perhaps since their journey here had been relatively cheap?
It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind this decision to cancel these routes, and why more was not done to prevent it.
Let's hope the powers that be can persuade Ryanair, or another airline, to reinstate these routes.

Anonymous said...

and news today that the uk is to get better rail network to reduce the need of internal flights. compare and contrast the benefits or otherwise of Heathrow as a hub airport feeding Scotland or Kings Cross feeding Scotland.