Eilean Dorcha Festival’s £2m boost for local economy

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Eilean Dorcha Festival has delivered an incredible £2 million boost to the local economy since it began in 2016.

The figures were released as part of new research into the Benbecula festival, which continues to go from strength to strength, showing an upward trend for the fourth year in succession.

The two-day festival, which has been shortlisted for the UK Small Festival of the Year by the National Outdoor Event Awards, was held on Benbecula in July and was headlined by Irish Country music star, Nathan Carter who performed along with Skerryvore, Trail West, local favourites Beinn Lee and a host of others.

Research into the July event, undertaken by economic impact assessment experts MKA Economics of Stirling, revealed an estimated £621,334 visitor spend, a jump of 19 per cent on last year’s £522,417. The event has helped to safeguard 12 tourism-related jobs, which EDF development manager Roddy MacKay described as “a fantastic achievement” for a two-day event.

He continued: ‘While we knew that the Eilean Dorcha Festival was a big success, we have been blown away by the economist’s findings.

‘This research demonstrates the power that communities have when they pull together to imagine a positive, more ambitious future.’

A total of 3,876 people attended the festival over the weekend, a 15 per cent increase on 2018.

Half of the attendees were local to the Hebrides, with the other half from mainland Scotland and all over the world.

Almost 90 per cent of visitors arrived on the island by ferry and indicated that they would return to visit the island at a different time of year, clearly showing that EDF and ferry company CalMac both play a vital role in attracting and bringing visitors to the island.

More than 87 per cent of survey respondents rated their festival experience as either very good or excellent, while 85 per cent of visitors noted that the food at the event was of a very high, or high standard.

Mr MacKay said: ‘Our priority is always to put on a great show that the island can be proud of.

‘As well as offering a fantastic musical show, we also want to make sure we offer fun activities for individuals of all ages.

‘We are very proud that – for just a £10 weekend ticket, all children of primary school age can enjoy our onsite activities free of charge and anyone under five years of age receives free admission. It lends to a great family-friendly atmosphere and, indeed, EDF has been dubbed ‘The Friendly Festival’ by its patrons.

‘To know we attracted a record crowd once again with the vast majority rating the festival experience as either very good or excellent is extremely pleasing.

‘In addition to the overall family experience, it is important that EDF delivers a substantial economic benefit for local businesses, but to break the £2m barrier in just four years is an incredible achievement.

‘It is encouraging to see that our visitor numbers are still increasing year on year and that people are staying for longer and wish to come back to the islands.

‘It is our ambition to keep building on our success, to enhance the festival experience even further, and to make the Eilean Dorcha Festival an unmissable occasion as part of a must-visit destination.

‘To be shortlisted for the UK Small Festival of the Year by the National Outdoor Event Awards is an added bonus and recognition that we must be doing something right.’

He added: ‘We have to thank all our sponsors, particularly our main sponsors, MOWI Scotland and Ask Car Hire and our travel partners Loganair and Caledonian MacBrayne who have been absolutely key to our success.

‘Once again, we would welcome local people and businesses to get in touch with us if they would like to know more about getting involved for the festival’s fifth birthday next year, in any capacity, whether trading, volunteering, performing or sponsorship.’

For more information about Eilean Dorcha Festival, visit www.edf.scot or the festival’s Facebook page.



Photo Credits  Iain Stephen Morrison – Am Pàipear for Stage Shot of Trail West & SMK Imaging for overhead image of site.