David Jackson: The Highland Show goes from strength to strength

The Royal Highland Show is now in its 178th year, an incredible achievement for any event, and one I am very proud to be part of. Over the years, it has shown to be resilient and innovative whilst respecting its heritage.

Wednesday, 21st March 2018, 6:00 am
The Royal Highland Show welcomed more than 190,000 visitors last year. Picture: Alistair Linford

Like all ­successful and long-lasting enterprises, it’s been necessary to adapt in order to meet the demands of ­modern rural and agriculture ­industries and outdoor events, but it has succeeded in this as well as in retaining its authenticity and ­traditions.

It is a unique event and one that ­continues to grow year on year, with more than 190,000 visitors in 2017. With this growth comes significant economic gains for not only the RHASS (Royal Highland and ­Agricultural Society of Scotland) charity to carry out its important work in ­Scotland, but for many of the regions and businesses of Scotland and beyond.

Recent research commissioned by RHASS has illustrated the significant economic impact of the ­Royal ­Highland Show on the Scottish ­economy, which is estimated to be £54 million.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

When you analyse the figures it’s clear how you reach this significant impact. The 2017 show attracted more than 1000 trade exhibitors. A great deal of business is generated as a result, with six per cent of exhibitors undertaking more than ten per cent of their annual business turnover there.

The total revenue generated by trade exhibitors at last year’s show is estimated at £19.86m. This is ­business that, it is strongly argued, would not happen without the Royal Highland Show taking place.

It is a major factor in why we see increasing ­interest from exhibitors from the UK and abroad, who now recognise this to be an ­international event, with genuine business ­opportunities. In fact, almost 40 per cent of our exhibitors are from ­outside Scotland, as they recognise the importance of the Scottish ­marketplace.

It will come as no surprise that the event also has a considerable impact on the hospitality sector – with the show attracting a significant number of visitors who stay overnight in the area. This equates to approximately 62,710 bed nights and, based on an average cost of £75 per night, would total £4.7m. Based on carefully estimated average expenditure of £35 per person, in addition to accommodation, with 190,000 attendees over the four days of the show, this delivers a direct £6.6m spend.

There is fantastic loyalty to the show, with almost two-thirds of attendees having been there five times or more. What is also pleasing is the number of people attending for the first time – which rose by 20 per cent last year, illustrating how the Royal Highland Show is attracting a new audience due to the growing interest of consumers in where our food comes from and the importance of farming and rural life.

While sales are important to exhibitors, in today’s marketplace brand awareness is probably more vital, and our exhibitors know that the footfall the show generates will result in both income and brand recognition which are key to business success.

If you haven’t experienced the show before, I encourage you to attend this year. The four-day event offers so much – world-class livestock, rural crafts, a dedicated ­forestry area, and a variety of live music and entertainment, and you can enjoy, arguably, the best and ­largest food festival in Scotland – which has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

There really is something for ­everyone, and you will leave in the knowledge you have made a worthy and vital contribution to the Scottish economy and Scottish agriculture, giving it vital support to grow and succeed for future generations. The Royal Highland Show is the best of farming, food and rural life.

David Jackson is show manager of the Royal Highland Show. This year’s show takes place at Ingliston from June 21-24. For further information please visit www.royalhighlandshow.org, @ScotlandRHShow and #RHS2018