Fears have been raised that Aberdeenshire could miss out on £600,000 of tourism cash after a “wrong-headed” council funding cut.

The council has taken away £50,000 in support to VisitAberdeenshire as leaders battled to plug a funding gap of £66.8 million.

It represents a major blow for the tourism agency which is funded by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils along with economic development partnership Opportunity North East.

Opposition councillors spoke out against the move, urging the ruling group to reconsider.

The SNP’s Seamus Logan told the Press & Journal that reducing its support was “an error in judgement”.

He noted that the tourism industry had been badly hit by the pandemic and was currently in recovery mode

Cancelled events

Mr Logan explained that events being cancelled due to Covid led to hotels, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions all “substantially” losing out on trade.

The body’s chief executive, Chris Foy, had previously told councillors the agency would lose out on vital match funding as a result of the cut.

This means there would actually be a £100,000 drop in VisitAberdeenshire’s budget.

It could see the region miss out on a raft of potential visitors from day trippers and golfers to cruise ships, tour coach operators and conference organisers.

Mr Logan went on to explain that campaigns by the tourism agency deliver an estimated £6 into the local economy for every £1 spent.

“The direct impact of this cut will be at least £600,000 not spent by visitors this summer at a time when tourism businesses are struggling to break even,” he added.

Lost momentum

"Tourism will lose momentum at a critical time.”

Mr Logan went on to say the administration’s plan to cut funding was “counterintuitive, counterproductive and simply wrong-headed”.

The Fraserburgh member has visitor attractions such as the Scottish Lighthouse Museum in his ward.

And he said VisitAberdeenshire was doing its “absolute best” to show off the region, and highlighted that the firm’s recent PR activity had reached 116million people globally.

Its work has helped to secure 26 national travel features, including two in the Telegraph.

One looked at Aberdeenshire’s role in tackling climate change while the other focused on cycling through the region’s beautiful countryside.

Celebrity chef

He also praised the Channel 4 show Best of British by the Sea, presented by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott and restaurant critic Grace Dent.

In one of the episodes, the pair took a trip to the north-east to sample the best of the region’s food, from fresh locally sourced seafood to shortbread and butteries.

They stopped at Gardenstown, Troup Head, Macduff, Thorneybank Farm Shop in Inverurie and Douneside House out in Royal Deeside.

Meanwhile, leading lifestyle magazine Good Housekeeping even named Aberdeenshire as its top holiday destination for 2023.

Addressing Mr Logan’s comments, council leader Mark Findlater - the Conservative councillor representing the Troup ward - said VisitAberdeenshire “plays a big part in the overall scheme of things”.

But he added that the local authority also had to recognise its work with other partnerships.


These include VisitScotland, regional private-sector partners, as well as its own Live Life Aberdeenshire.

VisitAberdeenshire recently faced losing out on an additional £160,000 of funding from Aberdeen City Council through its proposed budget cuts.

But the SNP and Lib Dem partnership threw the tourism agency a lifeline and opted to retain its support.

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