The cycling tourism market is currently estimated to be worth £240 million a year, and a co-operative formed by a group of private sector cycling companies from Tayside, Fife and Stirlingshire is aiming to grab a major share of the booming market.
The Scottish Mountain Bike Consortium was one of the three recent winners of Co-operative Development Scotland’s latest Collaboration Prize, first launched by First Minister Alex Salmond at Edinburgh Castle in 2012 to mark the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.
The award is being used to kick start the consortium’s marketing initiative, aimed at boosting the number of mountain biking families visiting Central Scotland.
The cycling co-operative includes Collective Training and Trax, specialists in mountain bike coaching, trail design and construction; Muckmedden Events, a company which organises mountain bike races; Perthshire-based Comrie Croft Bikes; and Dunkeld-based Progression Bikes.
Tom Durham, chairman of the Scottish Mountain Bike Consortium, said: “Winning the Collaboration Prize will be instrumental in our ability to get the wheels in motion for our consortium. We want to make mountain biking the ultimate family-friendly adventure activity.”
He continued: “Since our journey began we have built up a high level of trust between members through the process of working together. We joined the group as individual companies but we were soon working towards a common goal that will benefit us all.”
Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, welcomed the cycling initiative. He said: “Our nation has a rich heritage of innovating in business to drive growth. Today we see this further evidenced by way of this collaboration.
“The Scottish Mountain Bike Consortium is a worthy winner of this award and show just what heights can be reached when our small business leaders work together for their common good. Co-operative Development Scotland plays an important role in delivering the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensuring all of our people can better reap the benefits of enterprise. They are worthy of praise for the none-too-easy task they undertook in selecting the three winners for these collaboration awards.”
A spokesman for the consortium explained: “The new consortium co-operative brings together small businesses with an interest in mountain biking in a unique collaboration which aims to make Central Scotland the UK’s top family-friendly mountain biking destination. The consortium plans to capture a slice of the cycling tourism market in Scotland, estimated to be worth £240milion.”
He continued: “The SMBC is a group of like-minded private sector businesses committed to developing the best family mountain biking experiences and packages and solutions. Through cooperative working and links to public sector agencies, we can offer complete packages and consultation for businesses, agencies and groups looking to get involved for the first time or expand their mountain bike offering.
“SMBC is committed to developing and running family friendly events to encourage economic growth, participation and tourism and, in doing so, helping to establish best practice models for the mountain bike sector. “
Sarah Deas, chief executive of Co-operative Development Scotland, said: “We’re now into the second year of the Collaboration Prize and we were delighted to see so many high quality entries. There is a growing appetite from businesses to pool their expertise and work together.
“Collaboration brings tangible benefits. It enables firms to become more competitive and grow their markets, which in turn delivers a boost for the Scottish economy.”