Looking at the potential of the sector The Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker 2021 which was published this week predicted that if the sector continued at its expected rate of growth, when combined with farm retail sales it could contribute £250 million a year to local economies while providing almost 10,000 full time jobs.
Defined as tourism or leisure on a farm or croft that produces food or offers holiday experiences, agritourism has seen considerable growth in recent years – a trend which was accelerated during the pandemic. And an increasing number of farms, crofts and estates have developed their operations to attract visitors.
A growing interest amongst the general public 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.
Currently, farm tours and accommodation are amongst the most common activities offered by those involved in agritourism, but the report highlighted that many in the sector were set to expand their farm stay offerings with many hoping to add additional experiences, such as glamping, to their offering within the next three years.
The report also highlighted the important role which agritourism played in providing opportunities for multi-generational income and retaining on- farm careers and employment.
With more female directors and business partners than farm only businesses agritourism the area offered a better gender balance than in many of the more traditional sectors – while also providing 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 report follows on from a new industry strategy designed to galvanise the sector which was launched by Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon at the Scottish Agritourism Conference in November last year.
Commenting on the report’s publication, 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.
She said that the sector helped people understand the important role of farming and food production, and role it played in developing recognition of Scotland as a Good Food Nation, adding that the Growth Tracker highlighted that agritourism could play an important part in building resilience within rural Scotland.
Caroline Millar, Scottish Agritourism’s sector lead said:
“Being able to track the growth and impact of agritourism in Scotland over coming years is essential as we all work to double the number of farms and crofts in the sector and with a focus on increasing food and drink experiences on farms.