Shetland MSP has Beatrice Wishart has today sought assurances from Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing, that visitor facilities at Jarlshof will be looked at with a manner of urgency ahead of the upcoming tourism season. Visitors to the Bronze Age site are currently using parking spaces and toilets at the nearby Sumburgh Hotel, which has become increasingly unsustainable for the business.
The Jarlshof site, managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has no onsite toilet or parking facilities, leaving visitors to use the services at the Sumburgh Hotel by agreement with the owner. Previous Freedom of Information requests show that in February 2018 HES acknowledged that there is “increasing visitor pressure” at Jarlshof “with current health & safety issues to address.” However in January 2019 the Scottish Government rejected a business case put forward by HES for the development. Over 100 cruise ships are due to visit Lerwick this year, carrying almost 100,000 passengers.
During the Tourism Question session today, Ms Wishart highlighted the need for a permanent solution and asked the Cabinet Secretary to look again at the business case for the works. The Cabinet Secretary noted that HES is “actively engaged” on the issues and offered further discussion on the matter.
“Jarlshof is a hugely important site, detailing the history of Shetland and indeed Scotland. It’s hugely frustrating that it is taking so long to develop much needed visitor amenities. Given the nature of the site, there are limited options for HES and the Scottish Government to pursue, but it is imperative that present difficulties are overcome.
“I look forward to following up with the Cabinet Secretary to impress upon the Government and HES the need to make sure that the world class site has the facilities visitors expect and to ensure that pressure is eased on the Sumburgh Hotel. With Shetland’s booming tourism sector, the situation will only become more difficult.”