Wed 10 Nov 21
Growing the number and diversity of authentic agritourism experiences in Scotland is among the main ambitions of a new strategy designed to galvanise the country’s valuable agriculture and tourism sectors.
Unveiled as part of the Scottish Agritourism Conference held at Perth Concert Hall today (10 November), Scottish Agritourism 2030 – The Strategy for Sustainable Growth sets out a shared vision for the sector. One that aims to sustainably develop the rural economy, protect family farms for future generations, build consumer awareness and loyalty towards local produce, and celebrate the history and heritage of these important Scottish communities.
The strategy, which will be supported by a staged action plan, includes a collaborative approach from the public and private sectors both in Scotland and internationally.
Caroline Millar, Scottish Agritourism Sector Lead and Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands
Other objectives include attracting and retaining a skilled, committed and diverse workforce, creating and promoting a thriving and responsible sector and increasing the number of real working farms that offer a food and drink experience.
With growing consumer interest in food provenance and sustainable tourism, it's hoped the strategy will position agritourism at the forefront of visitors’ minds when seeking ways to enjoy, appreciate and understand the best of Scotland’s natural larder.
Agritourism is the blending of agriculture and tourism to create days out and holiday experiences on traditional working farms. It has become a growing consumer trend in Scotland with an increasing number of farms, crofts and estates diversifying their operations to attract visitors, such as offering seasonal events that aim to educate and inspire visitors about life on a working farm. There are currently around 500 businesses operating in the sector.
Popular agritourism experiences include farm stays, farm tours, farm shops which sell locally grown and sourced produce, and events such as pumpkin picking or lambing sessions.
There is so much opportunity within the agritourism sector, we have people in Scotland taking more of an interest in where their food comes from, more people looking to stay and travel domestically. There is so much opportunity here and I want to see this strategy really help drive this exciting industry forward. There are a host of passionate farmers doing this already, this is about us taking the next step to make this a real sector of success for Scotland.
By diversifying operations, farmers and crofters generate a stable income and this, in turn, helps to sustain their businesses. But it doesn’t stop there as diversified activity also provides an economic boost to the wider rural community by attracting tourists from urban areas to our countryside.
Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands
This strategy, with its focus on on-farm food and drink offerings and authentic experiences, will allow Scotland’s farmers and crofters undertaking agritourism to be a vibrant sales force for Scottish farming, at a time of great change in the sector. The ambition to double the size of the sector and have at least 50% of agritourism businesses offering food and drink by 2030 is in line with consumer demand for local food, outdoor and nature and sustainable tourism. This will drive local consumers, urban visitors and domestic and international holidaymakers on to Scottish farms putting vital income into the rural economy, creating jobs and protecting the future of the family farm and croft.
Caroline Millar, Scottish Agritourism Sector Lead
This strategy marks an important stage on the journey to sustainably develop one of Scotland’s most exciting tourism experiences. In recent years, visitors from all walks of life have really embraced agritourism and are actively seeking out authentic rural experiences.
We must make the most of this demand and support the future growth of the sector. As custodians of our countryside, real working farms are a vital part of Scotland’s story. The sector is filled with passionate storytellers that can bring to life the unique aspects of our history and heritage, while at the same time educating others about the need to protect and respect our natural assets.
VisitScotland is committed to working with the sector, stakeholders and the Scottish Government to position Scotland as a leading destination for agritourism.
Vicki Miller, VisitScotland Director of Marketing and Digital
For more information go to scottishagritourism.co.uk.