Stranraer Oyster Festival 2023 delivered £2.3 million economic boost

  • Three day oyster festival generated £2.3 million for the local economy    
  • There was a significant increase in in-bound tourism and a growth in first time visitors   
  • Local businesses reported a 16% uplift in trade levels compared to previous years

Record breaking attendance at Stranraer Oyster Festival 2023 generated an additional £2.3 million for the local economy, according to an independent economic impact report. The study, which was carried out by MKA Economics, also noted that this level of visitor spend should help to safeguard 32 tourism related local jobs. 

The three-day festival took place in September, the start of the UK’s native oyster season, attracting more than 21,000 people to the scenic harbour town on the shore of Loch Ryan, home to Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery. 

The economic impact research identified that 90% of visitors were in the area as a direct result of the festival and noted increases in the numbers of visitors staying away from home to attend the event as well as an increase in first time visitors. The inbound tourism effect of the festival was substantially increased, with 40% of festival attendees coming to the region from elsewhere in Scotland and the UK, compared to 24% in 2022.  

Researchers also analysed the impact of the festival on participating local businesses and found traders reported individual economic impacts of up to £12k each. More than half (61%) of traders said that the town’s hosting of the festival encouraged them to think about new ways to develop or promote their business, product or service.

Mark Kummerer of MKA Economics said: 

“It is clear from the economic impact assessment and visitor and trader feedback that Stranraer Oyster Festival took a leap forward in 2023 in both economic impact measures, and in visitor enjoyment. Stranraer Oyster Festival is now a major focal point in South West Scotland’s events calendar that in-bound visitors plan trips around, demonstrating strong and growing appeal for visitors. Economic impact of £2.3 million for a three day event is highly significant, and visitor feedback suggests there is clearly considerable room for further growth and development.”

Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation behind the oyster festival, said: 

“These are incredible figures for a three day festival, but they probably come as no surprise to anyone who attended the phenomenally busy festival this year. We’ve already taken on board the comments and feedback, including constructive criticism, about rethinking our festival infrastructure to more comfortably accommodate higher footfall. 

“This event was created by our community to celebrate our place, our produce and our people and boy did we achieve that this year. But actually, what’s more important to me is the community collaboration that the oyster festival encourages. We have proven that we can achieve great things when we work together, and coming together as a community has never been more important. 

“With a Place Plan agreed and funding for major projects in the pipeline, Stranraer is at a critically important moment. Community-led development for Stranraer isn’t just about an oyster festival any more, it’s about major infrastructure projects that could catalyse our economic prospects.   

“Stranraer has come a long way in the last few years and all of us at Stranraer Development Trust care very deeply about this town. The oyster festival is an important part of our town’s journey to economic transformation and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this event - from each and every one of our wonderful volunteers to our amazing funders and sponsors. It shows what Stranraer can achieve when we work together towards a shared vision.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of South of Scotland Enterprise, said:

“It is fantastic to see the Stranraer Oyster Festival go from strength to strength, as highlighted by the findings of the independent economic report.

“SOSE provided support to the Stranraer Development Trust for this year's festival and will aim to continue to do so to ensure its sustainability for many years to come.

“The festival also highlights the success of, and future potential of Stranraer, with a number of other exciting projects in development. SOSE is absolutely committed to working with partners to continue to support the regeneration of the town.”

Launched in 2017, Stranraer Oyster Festival is credited with changing the story of Stranraer, from one of economic deprivation to one of potential. Taking place from 15-17 September, the 2023 festival programme featured numerous demonstrations and events, including by celebrity chefs Michael Caines, Tony Singh and Julie Lin. Media interest in the festival was high and is expected to encourage year-round interest in Stranraer and the surrounding area as a destination, with national coverage including Delicious Magazine, The Guardian, The Times and a 22 minute programme on BBC Radio 4 which was broadcast last weekend (12 November). 

Stranraer Oyster Festival 2023 was supported through Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund and Coastal Benefit Fund, and EventScotland’s National Events Funding Programme. The work of Stranraer Development Trust is also supported by Kilgallioch Community Fund and South of Scotland Enterprise are supporting the long-term sustainability of the festival.

Dates for Stranraer Oyster Festival 2024 have been confirmed as 13-15 September 2024. More information can be found at


Celebrity chefs at Stranraer Oyster Festival 2023
Celebrity chefs at Stranraer Oyster Festival 2023
Colin Hattersley
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