Major survey aims to boost growth in agritourism

Farmers and crofters are being encouraged to take part in a major survey to assess the impact which the development of the agritourism sector could have on rural economies in Scotland.

The annual census also hopes to allow a better understanding of what support is required to grow the country’s burgeoning agritourism sector – and those considering adding agritourism to their operations are also asked to take part with a view to shaping future support for those starting out in the sector.

The first round of the Scottish Agritourism growth tracker, undertaken last year, found that together with farm retail the sector’s value could rise to be worth around £250 million and support 10,000 jobs by 2030.

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The latest research being undertaken by VisitScotland in partnership with Scottish Agritourism follows the recent trend towards staycations, with visitors seeking out authentic rural experiences which connected them to the countryside and Scotland’s natural larder.

Kitchen Coos and Ewes offer farm tours and experiences where you can see Highland cows and Beltex sheep in their natural, farm environment in south west Scotland. Picture: VisitScotland

Supporting the research, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Agritourism in Scotland is an exciting sector, which is expanding and offers a wide range of benefits. The Agritourism Growth Tracker is the perfect tool to analyse data, which will inform future decision-making and ensure the sector benefits from targeted support.

“The tracker enables us to measure progress towards achievement of the objectives of the ‘Scottish Agritourism 2030 – Strategy for Sustainable Growth’. I would encourage everybody eligible to take the time to fill out the growth tracker.”

VisitScotland’s Rob Dickson said that tracking the growth and impact of agritourism in Scotland was essential for the industry to grow sustainably: “To do that successfully we need to build a clearer picture and understanding of the businesses that operate in this space. We need a broader range of respondents sharing their experience of agritourism.”

And Caroline Millar, Sector Lead for Scottish Agritourism, added: “We are asking farmers and crofters across Scotland to take part in this second annual growth tracker. Half an hour of your time and your anonymous data will help to demonstrate the value that agritourism brings to Scotland’s economy and to your own local area.

“This is a critical time for the development of agritourism in Scotland as growing consumer demand meets an increasingly challenging future for the family farm or croft in a post Brexit world and in a turbulent economic climate.”

♦ A report into the growing influence of sustainability issues in the agrifood supply chain has shown that while 62 per cent of the country’s biggest food companies have a sustainability policy in place, fewer than one in five provide any details on how they work with farmers to achieve this.

The report, carried out by land agents Savills, found that the big question was whether improved sustainability at farm level would be incentivised or simply become a condition of supply: “This tension highlights the broader issue of how farmers can retain value and agency within supply chains. There is a cost to creating more sustainable production, and it is not yet clear who will bear that cost,” concluded the report.


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