Landowners and tourism stakeholders in North East Scotland have been urged to think about expanding their country sports tourism offerings to boost the regional economy, at an event run by Scottish Land & Estates.
The event, sponsored by rural land and property management experts Bell Ingram, was held at Finzean, Royal Deeside, last week.
Country sports tourism is an industry worth over £240million per year to the Scottish economy, and recent statistics show that the total tourist expenditure in Aberdeenshire is worth £206 million.
In a move to encourage tourism offerings, the landowner organisation brought in expert representatives from Scottish rural property and letting experts Bell Ingram, The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group, Kincardine Estate and Estate Life to highlight best practice.
Charlotte Gilfillan, who is passionate about country sports herself, spoke of Bell Ingram’s rejuvenated sporting lets web and social medial service and how it enhances visitor experience and the part it plays in reaching a wider and diverse audience. Andrew Bradford of Kincardine Estate outlined his 20 years experience of tourism provision. Susan Reid of Estate Life, which provides clients details of country sports market but also filming, fashion shoot and corporate opportunities, offered tips on what skills are needed to make the overall customer experience unforgettable, ensuring return bookings and word of mouth referrals.
Victoria Brooks of The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group discussed the popular "Excellence in Country Sports Customer Care" course currently being run across Scotland for keepers, stalkers and ghillies and highlighted the need for excellent customer care. She highlighted Scotland’s growing popularity with visitors from USA, Scandinavia, France, Spain and Germany as well as from within the UK. Andrew Farquharson, of the Finzean Estate Partnership chaired the event and stressed the importance of working with local communities, highlighting the role Estates play in the local economy. Delegate Neil McArthur commented: “This was a great opportunity to receive a first-hand account for how estates can create a more sustainable business with additional income streams and how this in turn can benefit the local area.”
Pat Somerville, Rural Enterprise Project Officer with Scottish Land & Estates, commented:
“Over the next three years there are an enormous number of opportunities to promote Scotland, including the Year of Creative Scotland, the release this summer of Disney-Pixar’s Scottish Film Brave, the Year of Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the 2014 Commonwealth Games 2014. There is also a government campaign to showcase Scotland’s natural beauty and landscapes in 2013. Sporting estates can work with other agencies to ensure that the industry is in the best possible position to make the most of the upcoming major tourism events and milestones.”