New motorhome and camping research published

Campervan in Scottish campsite on a sunny day
Alan Robertson

Motorhomes and campervans have been an increasing sight on Scotland’s rural and island roads over the last several years.

VisitScotland has published new research, which explores the motivations, behaviours and facility needs of motorhome, campervan and camping users to gain a better understanding of this visitor market. Undertaken by VisitScotland’s insights team as part of their membership of Scotland’s Visitor Management Group, it is hope that the results will provide a useful resource for a range of stakeholders including tourism businesses, local authorities, public and private landowners and community groups who may be exploring ways to work with this market or to provide additional services and infrastructure.  

In 2022, 1.58 million such trips were made in Scotland by domestic visitors spending £355 million (Great Britain Tourism Survey 2022). 

The research set out to identify characteristics and behaviours of motorhome, campervan and camping users in Scotland, levels of awareness on how to be a responsible visitor and facility needs. Over 4,500 responses were gathered via an online survey during the peak summer season (July – September 2023). 

Key research findings included:

  • Demographics: Most visitors were from within the UK, with 54% from Scotland.
  • Ownership: Most respondents were owners rather than renters of vehicles.
  • Facilities: Access to facilities is important when making decisions on a place to stay. While managed campsites were popular among all user groups, there's an appetite for staying in more rural and less formal locations.  Respondents also indicated a willingness to pay for facilities with demand for basic overnight facilities opening opportunities for private, public and community provision.
  • Importance of guidance: Respondents felt well informed on guidance on being a responsible visitor but eager to know more about waste disposal and parking.  The main areas suggested for improvement included information about and access waste disposal and parking such as Aires. 
  • Experiencing the community: On their most recent trip to Scotland, 75% of respondents took part in some form of paid activity, such as visiting an attraction, local pub or outdoor activity.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Destination Development Director and Chair of the Scotland Visitor Management Group, motorhomes, campervans and camping subgroup said:

“This research demonstrates the strong visitor demand for additional facilities and a desire from visitors to be more responsible. It also identifies opportunities for further visitor information and for the provision of facilities, particularly waste disposal and parking which users would be willing to pay for and could be a source of income generation.

These findings can be a useful resource for relevant stakeholders and can aid conversations on future infrastructure provision on a national and regional level.

As seen in other destinations this is a growing market which brings economic benefits to many areas of Scotland, however we recognise that there is a careful balance to strike to ensure we support the growth of responsible tourism in a way that balances the needs of communities, visitors and the environment.”

Councillor Ian Carruthers, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee added:

“Dumfries and Galloway Council were pleased to be a partner on the motorhome, campervan and camping sub-group and welcome the publication of this valuable research.

As a popular destination for motorhome and campervans, this research demonstrates the important contribution these visitors make to our local economy and communities and as part of our upcoming Responsible Tourism Strategy we will be looking at how we can strengthen our motorhome offering.”

Partner involvement

To undertake this research, partners brought together to form the motorhomes, campervans and camping working group include:

  • Cairngorms National Park Authority 
  • CaMPA (Campervan & Motorhome Professional Association)
  • Comhairlie Nan Eilean Siar
  • Dumfries & Galloway Council
  • Forestry & Land Scotland
  • Highland Council
  • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
  • NatureScot 
  • Ramblers Scotland 
  • Scottish Government 
  • Scottish Land & Estates

You can find the full research findings here