Farm tourism campaign launched

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A £10,000 marketing and promotion campaign began yesterday aimed at getting more people to enjoy bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation on Scottish farms, with an emphasis on local produce.

Marion Oates, regional director of Farm Stay Scotland, which is organising the campaign with £5,000 backing from VisitScotland, said yesterday: “Beautiful scenery, open spaces, fresh air and local produce – there is nothing quite like a holiday on a Scottish farm.

“Guests get a unique insight into rural life and the money stays in the local economy. Our members already have visitors from all over the world staying on their farms and this campaign will encourage even more to enjoy a slice of country life.”

Main targets for the campaign by Farm Stay Scotland – in its 30th anniversary year campaign that will include increased online marketing, an improved website and more effective brochure distribution – are visitors from England, northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Speaking at a special brunch at Gill Tait’s B&B and self-catering at Redshill Farm, Gifford , in East Lothian – which included local bacon, sausages, eggs, smoked salmon, rolls, honey and jam – Oates said good holiday facilities on working farms could meet a huge demand for holidays with a difference.

That was particularly true for visitors from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, many of whom had experience of farms in their own countries, she said.

Rosanne Mackay, who has a Farm Stay B&B near the battlefield of Culloden outside Inverness, where sheepdog demonstrations by her husband are a selling point, said: “We find that, once visitors have enjoyed a Farm Stay holiday, they make return visits. This campaign is to encourage the first visit.”

VisitScotland funding for the campaign is via the Year of Natural Scotland growth fund that is intended to raise awareness of Scotland’s landscape and scenery, local and natural food and drink and sustainability.

Holidays offered by Farm Stay Scotland members are a close fit to the intentions of the growth fund and the campaign would, said Mike Cantlay, chairman of Visit-Scotland, encourage even more people to make the most of Scotland’s outdoors, enjoy local produce and boost the visitor economy.

Efforts are also being made to link farm holidays with quality-food and drink tours.

Brenda Anderson, who runs the independent company Tasting Scotland, said at Redhills yesterday that such tours – which can be self-drive or with transport provided – had proved to be particularly successful so far in Fife.

She added: “But there is great potential for most parts of Scotland, including East Lothian, Perthshire and the North-east to tie in with Farm Stay providers.”

Quality local food is increasingly seen as a strong selling point for Scottish tourism which now employs about 270,000 people in more than 20,000 businesses, contributing an estimated £11 billion annually to the economy.