Friday, 7 August 2009

Loss of up to 150,000 Visitors Forecast

Quick follow up on last week's blog about the news that Ryanair were switching their emphasis more to outbound travel from Prestwick at least in the short term.

According to The Scotsman, "Scotland faces losing up to 150,000 visitors a year after the no-frills Ryanair announced it was axing three popular tourist routes to Prestwick to focus on sunshine destinations for holidaying Scots."
The article carried the story the right way round as far as we were concerned leading with the fact that Ryanair is to end flights between the Ayrshire airport and Frankfurt in Germany, Krakow in Poland and Stockholm in Sweden in October in exchange for flying fuller aircraft to the Mediterranean and Canaries.

For those in Ayrshire still in denial, three quotes which require no comment:
  1. Ken O'Toole, Ryanair's new route development director said: "This is a very strong message to be sending out, that we are the largest providers of sun destinations in the west of Scotland."
  2. Graeme Sweenie, Prestwick's chief commercial officer, said there would be "quite a significant reduction" in high-spending passengers from Germany and Sweden, which are among Scotland's key tourism markets.
  3. A VisitScotland spokesman 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."
The bald facts for Ayrshire:
  • 100,000 and 150,000 fewer people flying to Scotland (through Ayrshire) as a result of the changes. (Economically the equivalent of five Gatherings?)
  • This equates to anything from 200,000 bednights to more than half a million (depnding on whose economic impact calculator you pick up!)
  • Flights from Edinburgh to the three destinations axed from Prestwick are unchanged
  • As a result Ryanair seem to see Prestwick as an outbound carrier and are going to go head to head with charters from Glasgow and FlyGlobespan and others
  • Edinburgh is now being strategically placed as Ryanair's inbound Scottish hub
As Jim Mather wings his way to Ayr on Monday to take part in the Ayrshire Tourism Conversation, Ayrshire needs to recognise the threats to it's tourism wellbeing.
It truly is of little use to have world class golf, coastline, history and heritage and even accommodation if you can't actually get there...

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