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Article published 12/02/2024

Exploring visitor motivations, behaviours and facilities

We've published new research on our website which explores the motivations, behaviours and facility needs of motorhome, campervan and camping users to gain a better understanding of this visitor market.  

In 2022, 1.58 million such trips were made in Scotland by domestic visitors spending £355 million (Great Britain Tourism Survey 2022).  

Undertaken by our insights team as part of our membership of Scotland’s Visitor Management Group, we hope the results will provide a useful resource for a range of stakeholders including tourism businesses, local authorities, public and private landowners and community groups who may be exploring ways to work with this market or to provide additional services and infrastructure.   

Research highlights

The research set out to identify characteristics and behaviours of motorhome, campervan and camping users in Scotland, levels of awareness on how to be a responsible visitor and facility needs. Over 4,500 responses were gathered via an online survey during the peak summer season (July – September 2023).  

Read the full research findings

Key research findings included:

  • Demographics

    Most visitors were from within the UK, with 54% from Scotland.

  • Ownership

    Most respondents were owners rather than renters of vehicles.

  • Facilities

    Access to facilities is important when making decisions on a place to stay. While managed campsites were popular among all user groups, there's an appetite for staying in more rural and less formal locations.  

    Respondents also indicated a willingness to pay for facilities with demand for basic overnight facilities opening opportunities for private, public and community provision.

  • Importance of guidance

    Respondents felt well informed on guidance on being a responsible visitor but eager to know more about waste disposal and parking.  

    The main areas suggested for improvement included information about and access waste disposal and parking such as Aires.  

  • Experiencing the community

    On their most recent trip to Scotland, 75% of respondents took part in some form of paid activity, such as visiting an attraction, local pub or outdoor activity. 

Partner involvement

To undertake this research, partners brought together to form the motorhomes, campervans and camping working group include: 

  • Cairngorms National Park Authority  

  • CaMPA (Campervan & Motorhome Professional Association) 

  • Comhairlie Nan Eilean Siar 

  • Dumfries & Galloway Council 

  • Forestry & Land Scotland 

  • Highland Council 

  • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park 

  • NatureScot  

  • Ramblers Scotland  

  • Scottish Government  

  • Scottish Land & Estates

A motorhome driving through Loch Restil, Argyll and Bute.

This research demonstrates the strong visitor demand for additional facilities and a desire from visitors to be more responsible. It also identifies opportunities for further visitor information and for the provision of facilities, particularly waste disposal and parking which users would be willing to pay for and could be a source of income generation.

These findings can be a useful resource for relevant stakeholders and can aid conversations on future infrastructure provision on a national and regional level.

As seen in other destinations this is a growing market which brings economic benefits to many areas of Scotland, however we recognise that there is a careful balance to strike to ensure we support the growth of responsible tourism in a way that balances the needs of communities, visitors and the environment.

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Destination Development Director and Chair of the Scotland Visitor Management Group, motorhomes, campervans and camping subgroup

Dumfries and Galloway Council were pleased to be a partner on the motorhome, campervan and camping sub-group and welcome the publication of this valuable research.

As a popular destination for motorhome and campervans, this research demonstrates the important contribution these visitors make to our local economy and communities and as part of our upcoming Responsible Tourism Strategy we will be looking at how we can strengthen our motorhome offering.

Councillor Ian Carruthers, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee

As a member of the Scotland Visitor Management Group, our experience from opening up some of our carparks to self-contained motorhomes and campervans for overnighting through the "Stay the Night" initiative has illustrated the high levels of demand for this offer.

We have received a lot of overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors and thanks to our first-hand knowledge we can fully agree that catering for this particular market presents significant opportunities for Scotland’s tourism sector.

Alan Chalmers, Forestry and Land Scotland’s Visitor Planning Manager

We warmly welcome this valuable research, which clearly shows that people staying outside formal campsites want to frequent local businesses and avoid causing problems for communities or the environment.

It also highlights that existing facilities don’t yet meet the needs of all campers and campervanners. We hope these findings will help guide future decisions on how the nation can better support visitors to enjoy responsible tourism in Scotland.

Brendan Paddy, Ramblers Scotland Director

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