Wildlife-watching in the Shetlands, Old Harry Rocks in Dorset and the snowy peaks of the Cairngorms have seen an uptick in visitor interest after featuring in the first episode of David Attenborough’s BBC series, Wild Isles.
“I’ve been inundated with enquiries about visiting Shetland and I’m delighted with the huge interest the film has created,” said Richard Shucksmith, from Shetland Photo Tours, who was also involved in the filming and featured in the programme.
Episode one of the series begins by panning over Dorset’s Studland Bay and the chalk sea stacks, Old Harry Rocks, and Attenborough narrating from one of the nearby cliffs.
Fore / Adventure offers kayaking, paddleboarding and other tours around the area. The company’s co-founder, Jade Scott, said: “The series has highlighted how beautiful our country is and how important it is to protect it, reactions about the show from our customers have been really positive, and we’ve seen an increase in interest to explore this coastline further with us.”
Accommodation providers around Studland Bay had yet to see an impact on bookings, but there has been an uptick in interest for holidays in Scotland.
VisitScotland saw a 66 per cent increase in traffic to the Shetland-related pages of its website between 11-14 March, compared to the previous three days.
Shetland’s two wildlife tour operators, Shetland Nature and Shetland Wildlife, have both reported an upsurge in enquiries since the programme aired on Sunday.
“I took over 40 brochure requests on Sunday night alone and haven’t seen a spike in interest like this since Simon King’s Shetland Diaries were on the BBC around 10 years ago,” said Hugh Harrop, owner of Shetland Wildlife.
Google searches for “Shetland Islands” spiked when the first episode aired on 12 March.
Holiday rentals in Scotland are also proving popular with self-catering accommodation provider Sawday’s “Highlands & Islands” collection among its best performing and “Scotland” searches on its website up 25 per cent compared with March 2022.
Its sister brand Canopy & Stars offers luxury camping stays across the UK and Europe and has seen searches for “Scottish Highlands” up 35 per cent over the past month. It has cabin and cottage options in the Cairngorms, while Sawdays offers lodge holidays.
Wild Isles is another example of television shows and films encouraging tourism to UK destinations as the screen tourism trend continues with 39 per cent of global travellers having booked trips to destinations after seeing them on streamed shows or films, according to Expedia’s 2023 travel trend report.
This chimes with VisitScotland’s own research which shows that one in five visitors are inspired to travel to Scotland after watching television shows or films shot or set there. Among the television series to be based in, and partly shot on, the Shetlands is the BBC One drama Shetland. Although many of its interior scenes were filmed on the Scottish mainland, many landscape and exterior shots were taken in Shetland, including the capital Lerwick.
Meanwhile, The Traitors is the most high profile, recent series to be filmed entirely in Scotland – the gameshow was set in Ardross Castle, which is around 50 miles from Cairngorms National Park.
“For many communities, screen tourism has brought opportunities to grow the visitor economy with the additional spend from visitors supporting local shops, services and facilities,” said a VisitScotland spokesperson.
“This can have a positive impact on visitor numbers and encourage a wider spread of visitors across the country throughout the year.”