Insight Department. Agri-Tourism. Topic Paper. UK Consumer Interest in Farm Tourism in Scotland

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1 Insight Department Agri-Tourism UK Consumer Interest in Farm Tourism in Scotland Topic Paper

2 Introduction Agri-tourism is defined by Scottish Enterprise as: Tourism on a working farm in which visitors can experience a direct connection with the host farm, rural life and/or the local environment VisitScotland s research into Scotland s brand has told us that scenery is a core expectation of our visitors and we know that Scotland continues to stand out for breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities. Staying or visiting a farm is one way in which visitors can experience Scotland s rural landscape and outdoor activities. Agri-tourism is one aspect of the rural tourism offering but encompasses not just accommodation but a wide range of enterprises within the farm setting - from farm shops, to children s farm attractions, farm tours, agricultural exhibits etc. In March 2011, VisitScotland worked in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to assist in a piece of agri-tourism research. VisitScotland carried out an online survey with UK consumers from VisitScotland s UK & Ireland consumer database. The main aim of the research was to gather views on and the level of interest in farm tourism. The results fed into a wider piece of agri-tourism research carried out by SNH (further information on SNH can be found on their website This report provides a brief summary of the top line results from this research. Further details on research and statistics can be found on our website Respondent Characteristics Total Responses: 479 (Please note that this was an online survey) 54% of respondents were female, 44% male 7% of respondents were aged 16-34, 40% were aged and 53% were aged 55+ A high proportion of respondents had children (73%), with 63% having children who had left home (18+). As many children had left home it is possible that a % of respondents were grandparents The majority of respondents lived in England (62%), with just over a third in Scotland (34%). 2% lived in Northern Ireland and 1% in Wales. 1

3 1. Holidays in a Rural / Countryside Location 76% of respondents had stayed in a rural/countryside location in Scotland in the last 5 years and the majority of those that hadn t said they would consider it (97%). Findings The following are considered essential to a holiday in a rural/countryside location Attractive/natural scenery (89%) Somewhere good to spend time together (72%) Peace and quiet (61%) High quality accommodation (50%) The factors considered to be essential to a farm trip, by both those who had previous experience of staying on a farm either in the UK/overseas or Scotland included: The rural environment Peace and quiet Access to the countryside 2. Staying on a farm / visiting a farm attraction The majority of respondents to this research had not stayed on a farm in Scotland. However, the research was able to ascertain key factors which may encourage future use of farm accommodation/attractions. 79% of respondents had never stayed on a farm as part of a holiday in Scotland. 72% of respondents who had either never stayed on a farm, or had stayed on a farm outside Scotland suggested they would consider a farm stay to Scotland in the future. Factors most likely to encourage these people to stay on a farm in Scotland included: Availability of rural cottages Local food Peace and quiet Access to the countryside Those who said they would not consider staying on or visiting an attraction on a farm said the main reasons for this were: Preferred to stay in other types of accommodation Existence of livestock Noise Of those who would not consider staying on a farm in Scotland, 59% stated they would consider visiting a farm attraction as part of a wider holiday. Factors considered important to this were: Farm shops Wildlife viewing Walking routes 2

4 3. Farm Accommodation Of the 21% of respondents who had stayed on a farm in Scotland, most had stayed in a farm cottage (33%) or B&B on the farm (27%). Staying on a campsite or in a caravan proved less popular. Those who had stayed on a farm elsewhere in the UK or overseas showed similar characteristics to the above - although more of them chose a caravan or campsite. 4. Appeal of visiting a working farm Respondents were asked to what extent they thought promotions for on a working farm would appeal to them in encouraging a visit to a farm attraction. 50% said it wouldn t encourage them at all while 48% said a little and just 2% said a lot. Summary While a high percentage of respondents had been on holiday to a rural/ countryside location the numbers who had actually stayed on a farm were low. 72% of respondents did however state they would consider staying on a farm which presents huge potential to farm accommodation providers. When thinking about a holiday or short break in a rural/countryside location, respondents agreed that peace and quiet, scenery and getting to spend time together were the most essential factors. While these aren t necessarily associated with staying on a farm as such, there are opportunities to ensure these important motivating factors are offered to potential visitors. Access to the countryside was seen to be the factor most likely to encourage respondents to stay on a farm in Scotland. Local food, peace and quiet and rural cottages were also popular. 59% of respondents claimed they would consider visiting a farm attraction in a rural area of Scotland. This shows that farms that can t provide accommodation can still appeal to this growing market. Farm shops/cafes and wildlife/animal viewing were the activities most likely to encourage respondents to visit a farm attraction. 3

5 Tips for the Tourism Business - How To Use This Information If you are a business able to offer accommodation on a farm, consider the other facilities/amenities that you can offer or can signpost to visitors to help your consumers take away a really valuable, authentic experience. Can you enrich the tourism experience? Local produce and access to the countryside were highlighted in this research. Can you offer or promote local produce and local food & drink, signpost to local food and drink providers, supply information on the best way to access the countryside from your farm? Local culture and heritage can also add to the tourism experience. The peace and quiet may be a key part of the appeal of a break on a farm, but the opportunities to experience the countryside and activity based tourism can complement the holiday experience. Can you signpost visitors to local businesses which can offer local activities (walking, cycling, bird watching, nature watching etc). Wildlife watching was mentioned within this research. Are you able to offer activities for different age groups(children s activities through to adult (cooking or art classes, soft or adventure sports) Consider the barriers to staying/visiting a farm - livestock & noise were mentioned in our research. Consider any appropriate messages you can give the potential consumer on these topics within your marketing material or sales channels. Information provision is key Can you utilise current consumer trends in your business - a growing interest in health and well being, fitness, locally sourced food and the origin of foods, closeness to nature, education and a desire to learn and experience, sustainability and environmental awareness. Information on stay on a farm is available on com/guide/where-to-stay/stay-somewhere-different/stay-on-a-farm/ To take advantage of marketing opportunities with VisitScotland please visit 4

6 Contact us Insight Department VisitScotland Ocean Point One 94 Ocean Drive Edinburgh EH6 6JH T: August 2012 Disclaimer: VisitScotland has published this report in good faith to update stakeholders on its activity. VisitScotland has taken all reasonable steps to confirm the information contained in the publication is correct. However, VisitScotland does not warrant or assume any legal liability for the accuracy of any information disclosed and accepts no responsibility for any error or omissions. Images: VisitScotland/Scottish Viewpoint and Thinkstock

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