Agritourism and farm retail could be worth £250m to Scotland’s economy by 2030, new research from Scottish Agritourism shows.
As well as the opportunity for strong economic growth, the research found the industry played an important role in sustaining and creating rural jobs.
The Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker 2021, undertaken by VisitScotland on behalf of Scottish Agritourism measured, for the first time, the potential of the country’s agritourism industry.
Key highlights suggest that agritourism provided an opportunity for multi-generational income, retaining on-farm careers and employment.
The research found that agritourism farm retail businesses have more female directors and business partners than farm-only businesses.
Farm tours and accommodation were the most common activities by those involved in agritourism and those planning to be involved.
And the sector looks set to grow its farm stay offering with many respondents adding experiences, such as glamping, to their offering within the next three years.
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.
Responding to the research, David Brown, a director of Farm Stay UK who runs Hoe Grange Holidays near Matlock, said the public had "rediscovered the delights of UK rural holidays".
Farm Stay UK was founded by farmers in 1987 to promote agritourism and to give its members a platform to showcase their accommodation.
“Farm based holidays like the ones offered by our Farmstay members give visitors a first-hand view of British farming and where our food comes from," Mr Brown said.
"They can witness first-hand the love and passion that goes into the food produced."
The inaugural Scottish Agritourism Tracker was undertaken to gain a better understanding of the sector’s value and potential.
It identified potential growth areas within the sector around accommodation, food and drink and event spaces.
Findings from the tracker suggest 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 (£250m) and support almost 10,000 full time jobs.