This year’s Stranraer Oyster Festival is reported to have generated over £2 million for the local economy thanks to a 'record-breaking' attendance.

The hugely popular three-day event took place from September 15 to 17, marking the start of the UK’s native oyster season and attracting more than 21,000 people to the scenic harbour town on the shore of Loch Ryan.

The Herald:

READ MORE: Why the oyster catchers and a bustling festival have become a lifeline for Stranraer

An independent economic impact report carried out by MKA Economics has now revealed that the festival generated an additional £ 2.3 million for the area, and noted that this level of visitor spend should help to ‘safeguard 32 tourism-related local jobs’.

Research has identified that 90% of visitors were in the area as a direct result of the festival with a marked increase in first-time visitors.

The inbound tourism effect of the festival was also reportedly substantially increased, with 40% of attendees travelling to the region from elsewhere in Scotland and the UK, compared to 24% in 2022. 

Finally, researchers analysed the impact of the festival on participating local businesses and found that traders reported individual economic impacts of ‘up to £12k each’.

As a result, more than half (61%) of traders said that the town’s hosting of the festival encouraged them to think about ‘new ways to develop or promote their business, product or service’.

The Herald:

Mark Kummerer of MKA Economics said: “It is clear from the economic impact assessment and visitor and trader feedback that Stranraer Oyster Festival took a leap forward in 2023 in both economic impact measures and in visitor enjoyment.

“Stranraer Oyster Festival is now a major focal point in South West Scotland’s events calendar that in-bound visitors plan trips around, demonstrating strong and growing appeal for visitors.

“Economic impact of £2.3 million for a three-day event is highly significant, and visitor feedback suggests there is clearly considerable room for further growth and development.”

The oyster festival was first launched by Stranraer Development Trust in 2017 to mitigate the damaging economic impact of the main Northern Ireland ferry port moving to nearby Cairnryan in 2011.

This year’s event is said to have been the biggest to date, with a programme that included live demonstrations from celebrity chefs such as Michael Caines and Tony Singh.

The Herald: Stranraer Oyster Festival celebrity chefsStranraer Oyster Festival celebrity chefs (Image: Colin Hattersley)

Romano Petrucci, chair of Stranraer Development Trust, said: “These are incredible figures for a three-day festival, but they probably come as no surprise to anyone who attended the phenomenally busy festival this year.

"This event was created by our community to celebrate our place, our produce and our people and boy did we achieve that this year.

“The oyster festival is an important part of our town’s journey to economic transformation, and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this event - from each and every one of our wonderful volunteers to our amazing funders and sponsors.

“It shows what Stranraer can achieve when we work together towards a shared vision.”

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Stranraer Oyster Festival 2023 was supported through Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund and Coastal Benefit Fund, and EventScotland’s National Events Funding Programme.

The work of Stranraer Development Trust is also supported by Kilgallioch Community Fund with South of Scotland Enterprise supporting the ‘long-term sustainability of the festival’.

The Herald: Board members, guest chefs and rural minister Mairi Gougeon at the launch of SOF23Board members, guest chefs and rural minister Mairi Gougeon at the launch of SOF23 (Image: Pete Robinson)

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), said: “It is fantastic to see the Stranraer Oyster Festival go from strength to strength, as highlighted by the findings of the independent economic report. 

“The festival also highlights the success of, and future potential of Stranraer, with a number of other exciting projects in development.

“SOSE is absolutely committed to working with partners to continue to support the regeneration of the town.”

Dates for the Stranraer Oyster Festival 2024 have been confirmed as September 13 to 15 2024.

For more information click here.