A study conducted by Stayinstandrews - formerly known as the St Andrews Hotels and Guesthouses Association - has revealed that the accommodation and service sector of the tourism industry is playing a vital role in the economy of the university town.
The organisation, which has over 40 member establishments ranging from the five-star Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa and Fairmont to smaller hotels and a host of guesthouses, has published the findings of the survey and it makes for interesting reading.
The recently completed business survey of its members was aimed at identifying the impact that the association as a whole has on the economy of the town, as Stayinstandrews president Stephen Owen explained.
Speaking exclusively to the Citizen, he said that the current membership of 42 establishments employs around 1000 people — a major employer in the town and second only to the university — and has an estimated combined annual turnover of £38 million, making it very much one of the key business groups in St Andrews.
General manager of the Rufflets Country House Hotel in St Andrews, Mr Owen added:”Over the last few years, the association has sought to change the emphasis of its direction, to become more of a destination marketing group, investing more and more of its funds into projects aimed at promoting the town across the globe.
“On a basic level we know that when the town is busy, then all the various businesses are busy, and not simply those who are members of the association.
”The results from this survey show that the association, as a group of independent businesses, has a major part to play in the long-term development of St Andrews.
“One particular aspect of the survey was that over the last five years, the member businesses as a group have invested £33 million into the fabric of their properties, and over the next two years have another £12 million of capital investment projects planned.
“These levels of investments prove how serious the hotels and guesthouses are in their ambitions to ensure that we continue to offer first-class facilities, first-class Scottish hospitality, in a truly fabulous destination, all of which will help maintain St Andrews as a must-visit town in the eyes of the world.”
The importance of the trade body was also emphasised yesterday by Eric Brown, the chairman of the St Andrews Partnership.
He said:”Stayinstandrews is an excellent example of businesses working together with common goals to mutual advantage and the benefit of the town.
“For example, the origination of the winter golf programme with guaranteed tee times on the Old Course has brought sustained business over many years. This helps counteract the high degree of seasonality which affects Scottish tourist businesses outwith the main cities.
“The more focus there is on events and festivals in the town out of season, the more St Andrews will reap the economic benefits, not just from golfers but from Scottish and overseas visitors alike.”
The original idea of the winter golf programme came from the association. It was met with a positive response from St Andrews Links Trust and the business has grown substantially over the years.
Mr Brown’s sentiments were echoed by Councillor Robin Waterston, who added:”Congratulations to Stayinstandrews for their excellent work.”