Scottish Agritourism Conference - event report & strategy launch
The two-day Scottish Agritourism Conference was a hugely inspirational, educational and enjoyable event.
Held on 9 and 10 November at Perth Concert Hall, the live-streaming of the event was sponsored by the SRN so that people across Scotland could watch along and participate. Caroline Millar, sector lead, launching the event noted that it was being watched by people from across the world, with delegates tuning in from as far afield as India and Canada.
And attendees - whether in person or online - weren't disappointed (although online attendees did miss out on some fantastic food and drink - the merry berry cocktails were a particular favourite!)
Day 1 featured speakers from past and present Agritourism Monitor Farms and destination leaders, sharing inspirational stories of resilience and innovation during what has undoubtedly been a difficult period. Time and again, speakers acknowledged the support they had received from others in the sector and the willingness of the group to share ideas and offer help to each other was clear. For some attendees, this was the first time they had met face to face and there was a real buzz about the venue. And at times, it was emotional too - I doubt Caroline's mum was the only one to feel a tad teary.
Other sessions looked at the potentially thorny issue of succession and the possible pitfalls of families living and working together. Top tip here is that if you can see your in-laws' washing, you're living too close to them! The final session saw speakers sharing their experiences of employment, from the 'great resignation' to the positive potential of apprenticeships.
Day 2 saw Cabinet Sectretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon launch the sector's growth strategy. This was followed by experts giving an insight into the data behind the strategy and current and future market trends. The strategy aims to ensure Scottish Agritourism has a long-term sustainable future that delivers a high quality, authentic visitor experience with agriculture and food and drink at its core, sustaining the future of family farms, contributing to the wider rural economy and positioning Scotland as a key player in global agritourism. The ambition is to double the size of the sector and have at least half of agritourism businesses offering food and drink by 2030. Given consumer trends for local food, outdoor activity and sustainable tourism, and the enterprise, energy and commitment demonstrated by those working within the agritourism sector, it's an ambition that seems achievable.
If you didn't manage to catch the Conference, we'll be sharing videos from it in due course - watch this space.