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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 03/01/2024

Scotland’s burgeoning agritourism sector is set to benefit from a boost in overseas visitors.

The number of farms working with international tour operators and travel agents has almost tripled in the past 12 months, thanks to growing interest in the sector from visitors across the world.

It means there are now 41* agritourism businesses showcasing their offerings through travel trade, the recognised term for tour operators and travel agents who help sell trip experiences to holidaymakers.

The figure surpasses the national target of 40 by 2030 set in Scottish Agritourism 2030 - The Strategy for Sustainable Growth.

With more than half of visitors booking a trip through an intermediary, engaging with travel trade can help businesses attract more visitors and reach new audiences.

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

In recent years, particularly during the pandemic, agritourism has become a growing travel trend with visitors seeking out authentic rural experiences that connect them to the countryside and Scotland’s natural larder.

Popular experiences include farm stays, farm tours, field to fork experiences, sheepdog demonstrations and feeding Highland Cows as well as food and drink activities which support a growing trend towards buying locally and reducing food miles. 

A survey of Scottish agritourism businesses found that as well as the opportunity for strong economic growth, the industry played an important 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.

Findings from the Scottish Agritourism tracker suggest that if the sector’s strategy targets, which were announced in 2021, 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.

Recent figures show that last year there were 3.2 million visits to Scotland from overseas tourists, compared to 3.46 million visits over the same period in 2019. 

Tour operators and travel advisors play a crucial role in providing visitors with the information they need to choose a destination and plan their trip.

With so many international visitors seeking authentic experiences that help them live like a local, it is no surprise that agritourism is attracting such attention.

We’ve been working closely with businesses to help them tailor their offering to the travel trade market; making sure they have experiences that can be booked time and time again, thinking of their marketing and helping make sure they are part of the touring options and itineraries many agents and operators are looking for when promoting trips to Scotland.

Helping businesses be ‘travel trade ready’ not only helps individuals but will grow the wider agritourism sector, in turn supporting rural and local tourism by creating jobs and sustaining farming communities.

Rona Wallace, VisitScotland Senior Intermediary Marketing Manager

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