SCOTLAND’S burgeoning agritourism sector is benefiting from a growing trend for buying locally-sourced food and drink, new research has revealed.

The Scottish Agritourism Growth Tracker 2022, carried out by Visit Scotland for Scottish Agritourism found money generated by farm retail rose by almost £50 million during the first year of the pandemic, up from £62m to more than £110m.

The findings highlight the significant value and opportunity for Scotland’s farms, rural communities and visitor economy of including a food and drink experience as part of Scotland’s agritourism offering.

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

More than one-third of agritourism businesses offer food and drink consumption on site. This can include farm produce enjoyed as part of a holiday on a farm, in a farm cafe or after a farm tour.

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More than half of respondents said they sell their produce online (55%), in an on-farm shop (36%) or via an honesty box (29%). It is believed the boom in farm retail sales is a result of growing awareness of the economical, ethical and environmental benefits of buying directly from local farmers.

Particularly during the pandemic, agritourism became a growing travel trend with visitors seeking out rural experiences that connect them to the countryside and natural larder.

The 2022 tracker was undertaken to monitor the progress and potential of the sector. It found agritourism is currently worth around £60m to the Scottish economy. Unlike other sectors, it continued to perform well during the pandemic, demonstrating its appeal to local and domestic markets. As well as food and drink, potential growth areas include farm experiences and tours, accommodation and event space.

The survey, the second of its kind, confirmed many of the findings from the first around the benefits of agritourism to Scotland. It again found that as well as the opportunity for strong economic growth, the industry played an important role in sustaining and creating rural jobs, supporting family employment, and providing equal roles for men and woman across various ages and skill levels.

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland director of industry and destination development, said: “Agritourism is helping to address important societal issues such as inclusivity, rural employment and depopulation. Its future growth offers huge potential for both the agriculture and tourism sectors by creating jobs, helping communities thrive, demonstrating the best in environmental management and contributing to the wider economy.”