The Orkney Islands have a renowned reputation as a must-see place for history, nature, events, culture and leisure. Having recently moved to the Islands to start work in his new role of Business Development Manager at the council’s marine services, Paul Olvhoj is in a perfect position to summarise what Orkney offers and the main aspects of the marine business.
With over 170 port calls annually, Orkney is the UK’s cruise capital. Hatston Pier just outside Kirkwall with its 385 metres of berthing and 10.5 metres draft is the perfect berth for even the largest cruise ships in service. There are 3 berthing options in Kirkwall and Stromness and 2 anchorages so that ships of all sizes can be accommodated.
In 2020, Orkney will receive around 160,000 passengers from across the globe.
Orkneys World Heritage site offering unrivalled Neolithic tourism experiences at 4 locations close together on the West of the mainland at Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stennes and Maeshowe chambered tomb. There are Viking burial plots and the history of two World wars and a wide range of itineraries including stunning panoramas, arts and crafts, the beautiful 12th century St Magnus Cathedral and the famous whisky distilleries of Highland Park and Scapa that underpin Orkney’s global tourism growth.
The harbour authority, in conjunction with the local authority will publish its 20-year ports master plan next year. The plan will take a strategic view of how the commercial ports within Orkney harbours will prepare its infrastructure requirements for the future in order to continue to service its diverse portfolio of stakeholders and harbour users. Future proofing the port for ever evolving markets and providing sustainable growth opportunities for existing markets is indeed a challenge and does involve a certain amount of ‘star gazing’, but with the input of all of our stakeholders and users and those we aspire to attract, it is hoped that the final outcome will be both realistic and achievable.
Any island destination is reliant on its lifeline freight and passenger links and Orkney is well connected. There are daily freight and passenger services to Stromness from the Scottish mainland, almost daily freight and passenger freight and passenger services from Aberdeen to Kirkwall and a 3 times a day service from Gill’s Bay; Orkney is therefore well connected as in addition there are 12 daily flights into Orkney from the Scottish mainland and Shetland and in the summer, there are regular flights to Manchester and Bergen.
Orkney’s geographical location at 59 degrees north and on the main shipping routes from the Baltic region, the North Sea, Trans-Atlantic commercial shipping routes and the north Atlantic periphery neighbours are a unique attraction for both oil and gas and marine tourism activity. The wide range of commercial and leisure ports within the 29 piers and harbours of the port’s estate and Europe’s largest natural harbour Scapa Flow at 125 square miles, provides a diverse range of berthing and anchorage options.
Orkney is one of the most diverse commercial harbours in the UK and developing and nurturing our key business streams in these markets is a challenge particularly as we look to build in sustainable and green solutions to tackle the climate emergency. This is something that will affect all our business sectors, so we need to be planning this into our strategies now and developing into the renewable energy markets. The people of Orkney are proud of our shipping heritage and want to see a strong marine sector providing jobs and income for the Islands.
*To find out more about this fascinating port, visit Cruise Orkney’s website by clicking here.