The potential of Scottish agritourism industry

Monika Reichelt

The Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker 2021, undertaken by Visit Scotland on behalf of Scottish Agritourism measured, for the first time, the potential of the country’s agritourism industry.

Findings from the Scottish Agritourism tracker suggest that if the strategy targets are achieved the combined value of agritourism and farm retail in 2030 would be around a quarter of a billion pounds (£250m) and support almost 10,000 full time jobs.

There is a clear opportunity for strong economic growth, but the research also suggests that the industry played an important role in sustaining and creating rural jobs, supporting vital family employment and providing equal and inclusive roles for men and women across various ages and skill levels.

Key highlights:
• Agritourism provided an opportunity for multi-generational income, retaining on- farm careers and employment.
• Agritourism farm retail businesses have more female directors and business partners than farm only businesses.
• Agritourism provided an opportunity to add value to farm produce by selling directly to visitors, helping lower food miles and raise the profile of quality Scottish food and drink on farms in Scotland.
• The majority of respondents expressed a desire to promote their own and local produce by either offering eating options on site now or considering doing so in the future.
• Farm tours and accommodation were the most common activities by those involved in agritourism and those planning to be involved.
• The sector looks set to grow its farm stay offering with many respondents adding experiences, such as glamping, to their offering within the next three years.
• A wide range of assets are being used for agritourism activities, ranging from land and panoramic views to crops and historic connection to famous points in history.
• Agritourism is a year-round activity with facilities widely reported to be open throughout the year.

Agritourism in Scotland is defined as tourism or leisure on a farm or croft that produces food or offers holiday experiences. In recent years, particularly during the pandemic, it has become a growing travel trend with visitors seeking out authentic rural experiences that connect them to the countryside and Scotland’s natural larder.

An increasing number of farms, crofts and estates have developed their operations to attract visitors. A growing interest in connecting to nature and an awareness food and drink journeys have also created new opportunities, while offering seasonal events, like lambing sessions and pumpkin festivals have helped inspire visitors to visit and find out about life on a working farm.

A new industry strategy designed to galvanise the country’s agriculture and tourism sectors was launched by Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon at the Scottish Agritourism Conference in November last year.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The agritourism sector provides a quality, unique experience as well as an economic boost to the wider rural community by attracting people to rural Scotland. The sector helps people to understand the important role of farming and food production, and has an increasing part to play in our vision of Scotland as a Good Food Nation – helping ensure that reliable access to nutritious, locally sourced, locally produced, good quality food is a practical everyday reality for everyone in Scotland.

“The development of the Growth Tracker highlights that agritourism can play an important part in building resilience within rural Scotland. It is very encouraging to see the promising results of this baseline survey, particularly as the survey returns provide some very positive indications of growth potential and the extent to which farm, croft businesses and estates can exploit the opportunities available to them. This will enable the sector to measure progress towards achievement of the aims and objectives of the Strategy for Sustainable Growth and contribute towards growth in the rural and wider economy.”

Visit the Scottish Agritourism website for more details.