PLANS to galvanise the Scottish agritourism industry were unveiled at a conference in Perth today.
Agritourism typically involves holidaying on a working farm and gives tourists unique insight into the world of agriculture.
The industry wants to increase the number and diversity of agritourism businesses north of the border.
And at a conference at Perth Concert Hall today a strategy for achieving that by 2030 was unveiled.
The key elements of the strategy include sustainably developing the rural economy, protecting family farms for future generations, building consumer awareness and loyalty towards local produce and celebrating the history and heritage of these important Scottish communities.
The strategy, which will be supported by a staged action plan, includes a collaborative approach from the public and private sectors both in Scotland and internationally.
Other objectives include attracting and retaining a skilled, committed and diverse workforce, creating and promoting a thriving and responsible sector and increasing the number of real working farms that offer a food and drink experience.
With growing consumer interest in food provenance and sustainable tourism, it is hoped the strategy will position agritourism at the forefront of visitors’ minds when seeking ways to enjoy, appreciate and understand the best of Scotland’s natural larder.
Agritourism has become a growing consumer trend in Scotland with an increasing number of farms, crofts and estates diversifying their operations to attract visitors.
There are currently around 500 businesses operating in the sector.
Popular agritourism experiences include farm stays, farm tours, farm shops which sell locally grown and sourced produce and events such as pumpkin picking or lambing sessions.
Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, said: “There is so much opportunity within the agritourism sector, we have people in Scotland taking more of an interest in where their food comes from, more people looking to stay and travel domestically.
“There is so much opportunity here and I want to see this strategy really help drive this exciting industry forward. There are a host of passionate farmers doing this already, this is about us taking the next step to make this a real sector of success for Scotland.
“By diversifying operations, farmers and crofters generate a stable income and this, in turn, helps to sustain their businesses. But it doesn’t stop there as diversified activity also provides an economic boost to the wider rural community by attracting tourists from urban areas to our countryside.”