THE economic benefits delivered by Mull’s white-tailed eagles have more than tripled in just five years, according to an independent study commissioned by the RSPB.
These stunning birds, which are part of an on-going re-introduction programme in Scotland, now bring at least £5million into the Mull economy every years, up from £1.4million in 2005, the study by the Progressive Partnership has revealed.
The tourism they generate also supports 110 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs (up from 26) and £2.4million of local income.
Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Enterprise and Tourism, said: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s strongest assets, making a vital contribution to the economy and carrying significant potential for future growth.
“Wildlife Tourism in particular has grown in recent years and continues to do so with £276million being spent on these trips, 75% spent by domestic tourists, and supporting 2,763 full time jobs in the sector
“I am encouraged by the number of people coming to see these magnificent birds, especially in Mull, and all the hard work being carried out by the RSPB as well as all those who have a role to play in protecting the species.”
The survey was carried out last summer, in which over 1,200 people were asked their reasons for travelling to Mull. Almost a quarter stated that the eagles were an important factor in their trip.
Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland’s Mull Officer, said: “This survey backs up previous studies looking at just how much wildlife tourism contributed to the Scottish economy; a strong argument for investing further in nature conservation projects.
“And of course, these figures say nothing about the additional benefits these projects can bring to our health and wellbeing, as well as the sheer exhilaration of simply watching these incredible birds soaring free”.
He added: “Living and working with predators like eagles also has its challenges and we should be grateful for the work of farmers and land managers who have an essential role in safeguarding them for the nation.