Survey papers were completed on 22 grouse shooting estates, helping to quantify the level of visitor spend in remote rural communities adversely affected by Covid-19 constraints.

Despite a lack of overseas shooters because of global quarantine rules, each visitor last season spent an average of £3,593.18 in local communities, before shoot costs were even added in. That represents an average spend of over £450 per day in some of the country’s most remote communities, with local accommodation, food, shops and garages all benefitting.

The majority of respondents were internal UK visitors, with a smaller number from the Netherlands; the average visit lasting one week.

The economic injection, at a critical time, dwarved the average spend per trip by overseas and domestic visitors to Scotland recorded in VisitScotland’s last insights report from 2018. The tourism body’s Key Facts on Tourism in Scotland 2018 found that average overseas visitor spend in Scotland was £624 per trip, with £234 per trip spent by domestic visitors.

Despite Covid-19 impacting the grouse shooting season last year, the survey organisers believe the shoots which did go ahead will have helped businesses to survive and retain staff.

Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of Scotland’s regional moorland groups, commented: “A lot of work went into sector guidance with Scottish Government but the season was always going to be different, due to the pandemic and reduced overseas clientele. This survey shows how important grouse shoots are to fragile areas. There has been a lot of businesses very glad of having high spending visitors around during an awful year. Rural economies were disproportionately impacted by lockdown and we haven’t yet seen the end of unemployment and closures because of Covid-19.”

Lowest rates of accommodation occupancy in Scotland are traditionally found in remote rural areas, highlighting further the importance of shooting parties to these dispersed regions.”