Cycle tourism is worth almost £240 million each year for the Scottish economy, according to a new report by a transport campaign group.
Transform Scotland argues that Scotland should be branded as a must-visit destination for cycling in order to capitalise on the economic benefits.
Its report, The Value of Cycle Tourism, states that leisure cycling and touring by visitors and residents nets as much as £239 million annually.
Published in partnership with sustainable travel organisation Sustrans Scotland, the report sets out recommendations for realising the full potential of leisure cycling, including promoting the activity to a wider range of groups and supporting marketing of routes, particularly in rural areas of Scotland.
Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said: “While Scotland has built up a reputation for mountain biking, much more could be done to brand Scotland as a ‘must-visit’ destination for cycle tourists and leisure trips.
“There is substantial room for growth in touring and leisure cycling, and with appropriate promotion could make an even greater contribution to Scotland’s economy.
“Our report sets out a strategic direction for both public-sector bodies and the private sector in taking forward the expansion of the sector so that it can play its full role in Scotland’s tourism strategy.”
The report comes as transport minister Keith Brown travels to the Netherlands to gain knowledge and first-hand experience of the country’s cycling infrastructure.
Mr Brown said: “I am delighted to be visiting the Netherlands to see for myself how they differ in terms of infrastructure, education and attitudes on cycling.
“The people of the Netherlands have a wealth of cycling knowledge which we in Scotland are keen to learn from as we move towards our shared vision that by 2020, 10% of all journeys will be made by bike.
“I am hoping to bring back many of the lessons learned from this visit and discuss these further with the cycling community and local authorities back home in order to improve and promote bike use across Scotland.”
John Lauder, director of Sustrans Scotland, said: “Sustrans considers that with the appropriate provisions in place, Scotland could easily be on a par with the Netherlands in terms of levels of cycling.”
He added: “We are sitting on an untapped potential that, with minimal investment, we could quickly realise.
“As business opportunities go, this is a no-brainer. However, more needs to be done to promote leisure and touring cycling to a broader range of people, making it more attractive to beginners, women and young people.
“To realise this great potential there needs to be greater development and marketing of themed cycle routes, including greater visibility for the National Cycle Network and the EuroVelo (European cycle route network) routes when Scotland markets and promotes itself.”