Farms and estates encouraged to take part in agritourism census
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Farms, crofts and estates across Badenoch and Strathspey are among those being asked to take part in an annual census to help build a better understanding of what support is required to grow the country’s burgeoning agritourism sector.
The nationwide research, undertaken by VisitScotland in partnership with Scottish Agritourism, looks to establish the size and scale of the industry.
It is hoped attracting a broader range of respondents this year will create a clearer picture of the country’s agritourism offering and the impact that the sector has on the local and national economy.
The survey will not just look at those currently operating agritourism businesses but aims to include existing farming and crofting businesses that are considering adding agritourism to their operations. The results could help shape future support for those starting out in the sector.
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 vital family employment, and providing equal and inclusive roles for men and woman across various ages and skill levels.
Agritourism in Scotland is defined as tourism or leisure on a farm or croft that produces food or offers holiday experiences.
In recent years, particularly during the pandemic, it has become a growing travel trend with visitors seeking out authentic rural experiences that connect them to the countryside and Scotland’s natural larder.
A new industry strategy designed to galvanise the country’s agriculture and tourism sectors was launched by last year with the Scottish Agritourism tracker suggesting that if the strategy targets are achieved the combined value of agritourism and farm retail in 2030 would be around a quarter of a billion pounds (£250 million) and support almost 10,000 full time jobs.
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.”
Rob Dickson, VisitScotland 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 unpararelled 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.”
Caroline Millar, Sector Lead for Scottish Agritourism, said: “The actions identified in the 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.”
The survey closes on July 3, to participate please visit: www.visitscotland.org/news/2022/agritourism-tracker-2022