COVID-19 update: Shetland is now reopen to visitors, as per Scottish government guidelines, but please read our guidance on travelling responsibly.


One of the key areas of growth in Shetland is the tourism industry. With the popularity of the TV series ‘Shetland’ and the growing cruise ship trade, more and more people are visiting the islands, making for plentiful investment opportunities.

Shetland is a popular destination for travellers exploring Northern Europe and the Nordic regions. Some are inspired to visit after reading about or watching the exploits of DI Jimmy Perez in Ann Cleeves’ ‘Shetland’ series, some come for the spectacular wildlife, and others head here for one of the islands’ many events, like Up Helly Aa, Shetland Wool Week or the Shetland Folk Festival.

Shetland’s tourism market is a growing one, with the number of visitors and visitor spend having increased significantly from 2013-2017. The value of tourism to our economy grew from £16.2 million in 2013 to £23.2 million in 2017, and growth is projected to continue with the ambition of the Shetland Tourism strategy to achieve £33.5 million visitor spend by 2023.

One of the aims of the strategy is to grow the season, to ensure a sustainable tourism sector all year round. There is also opportunity to develop more high-end visitor experiences and services which exploit all that Shetland has to offer.

Cruise tourism

Shetland is also experiencing rapid growth in cruise ship passengers, with 91,000 passengers visiting during the 2018 season, up from 70,000 in 2017. Over 100,000 cruise ship passengers are expected in 2019, with continued growth anticipated.

Opportunities exist for investors in the provision of quality shore excursions and services for cruise ship passengers.

If you’re interested in finding out more about investing in Shetland tourism and the opportunities available, contact Rachel Hunter from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for further information. Email or call +44 (0)1595 744 908.

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