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Farms and crofts in Highlands urged to take part in agritourism survey

By Alan Hendry

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Agritourism in Scotland is an expanding sector offering a range of benefits. Picture: VisitScotland
Agritourism in Scotland is an expanding sector offering a range of benefits. Picture: VisitScotland

Results from a new survey could help to shape future support for those starting out in Scotland's agritourism sector.

Farms, crofts and estates in the Highlands are among those being asked to take part to help gain a better understanding of what is required.

The research, undertaken by VisitScotland in partnership with Scottish Agritourism, will look to establish the size and scale of the industry.

It follows on from the first annual census in 2021. It is hoped that attracting a broader range of respondents this year will create a clearer picture and show the impact of agritourism on the economy.

Agritourism in Scotland is defined as tourism or leisure on a farm or croft that produces food or offers holiday experiences.

The survey will look at those currently operating agritourism businesses but also it aims to include existing farming and crofting businesses that are considering adding agritourism to their operations.

Last year’s inaugural Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker revealed that, as well as the opportunity for strong economic growth, the industry played a key role in sustaining and creating rural jobs, supporting family employment and providing equal and inclusive roles for men and women across various ages and skill levels.

Those behind the initiative say that in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, there has been a growing trend of visitors seeking authentic rural experiences that connect them to the countryside and the natural larder.

Scotland's 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.”

Caroline Millar, sector lead for Scottish Agritourism, said: “The actions identified in Scotland’s agritourism strategy require investment and support to drive growth projections by 2030 to double the size of the current sector.

“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.

"Your individual efforts will benefit all farmers and crofters in Scotland by showing collectively what we deliver and how the sector is performing on an annual basis.

“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.

“Without accurate data on our sector we cannot attract investment from capital grants to more agritourism monitor farmers, to support growth. Your support in taking part in this annual census and encouraging others to do so is much appreciated by your fellow farmers and crofters.”

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland's director of industry and destination development, said: “The Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker is an important piece of research that could shape how we work with this exciting sector in the future.

"Throughout the pandemic we saw the industry continue to grow in popularity, but the tracker also helped shed light on the unparalleled and wide-ranging benefits agritourism brings to society.

“Being able to track the growth and impact of agritourism in Scotland over the coming years is essential if the industry is 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.

“The recovery and subsequent responsible growth of Scotland’s tourism and events industry remains our priority. Tourism is a force for good, creating jobs, sustaining communities and contributing to our economy.”

Results of the Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker will be made available later this year.

The survey closes on July 3. To participate, visit www.visitscotland.org/news/2022/agritourism-tracker-2022

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