Over 50 of Scotland's vibrant rural tourism, leisure and local food businesses based in the countryside around Edinburgh have joined together to offer great deals and adventures for the city's residents and city visitors in time for the summer holidays.
Any Scottish Land & Estates members with tourism and leisure attractions and accomodation providers are urged to consider becoming members of Go Rural.
Launched today by Graeme Dey MSP at Glamis Castle in Angus, Go Rural (www.goruralscotland.com), will help families, couples and groups of friends plan days out and longer breaks to destinations within or around 90 minutes travel time of Edinburgh's by-pass.
Graeme Dey said: “Scotland’s rural areas have a great deal to offer leisure wise not only to visitors to our country but also our own town and city dwellers. Go Rural seeks to bring the best of these offerings together so that people seeking a break in the countryside can more easily find a package which meets their requirements.’’
Paul Wakefield of Scottish Land & Estates said: ‘Go Rural provides an ideal opportunity for any members of Scottish Land & Estates to promote their tourism and leisure business to the local domestic market and we urge any one of members, operating in this market, to consider joining. The team at Go Rural have huge energy and have created something special in a very short space of time. Our own Scott Petre (Regional Manager for NE and Central Scotland) was involved in the original concept, which was initiated during a Rural Leadership Development Programme project in January. The speed from flash to bang has been very impressive and we are delighted and very proud to be one of the project partners.’
The businesses on the Go Rural website include award-winning farm shops, quality assured self-catering cottages and B&Bs, 'glamping' sites and activity centres. They all aim to offer exclusive deals and special offers to people who register as Go Rural members, free of charge, via the website.
"Scotland's countryside is on the doorstep of Edinburgh and offers so many things to do whatever your budget," explains Go Rural Director, Caroline Millar. "Rural tourism businesses open up a new world of experiences particularly wonderful for children keen to try and learn something new, whether that be having a lesson in a canoe, camping in the woods, seeing how their food is grown or watching wildlife from a hide by a loch."
"Many of the businesses you can visit are based on farms and estates which will allow you to visit the beauty of natural Scotland, the source of much of Scotland's high quality food and drink."
"You'll be amazed at how much there is to do within an hour and a half's drive from the city and how far you can get in that time," she adds. "90 minutes will see you in Tayside to the north, Ayr to the south west, Loch Lomond to the west and to Gretna and Lockerbie from the southerly stretch of the Edinburgh by-pass."
She adds that the city is a wonderful place, with lots going on, but just outside the city is a whole world of new experiences and adventure, in stunning Scottish scenery, just waiting to be tried this summer holidays.
"We hope that people staying in Scotland for their summer holidays will use the Go Rural website to plan last minute days out and short breaks without incurring the cost of long-distance travel. Whether you are after adventure, great local food, a little bit of decadence or just trying something new, then I'd urge you to discover more of your Scotland by registering with Go Rural and visiting some of the amazing rural people who run these businesses."
Go Rural, a concept that was developed as part of the Scottish Enterprise 2011/12 Rural Leadership Programme, is a pilot project aimed at attracting Edinburgh residents and city visitors to take rural day trips and short breaks to experience the wide array of rural tourism offers within 90 minutes of the city boundary. Over the next 12–18 months, the concept will also be rolled-out across Scotland from the cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Inverness.
David Smith, director of Innovation at Scottish Enterprise said: "Go Rural is a great example of the entrepreneurial attitude of our rural leaders. Innovative new business ideas, like this one, combined with confident and ambitious leadership will enable Scotland's rural economy to continue to grow."
In recognition of the importance of rural tourism to the Scottish economy, Visit Scotland has awarded £33,000 Growth Fund support for the marketing of Go Rural and Scottish Enterprise has provided a further £15,000 to support the development of Go Rural business members.
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland’s countryside has so much to offer, from stunning scenery to fantastic food and drink. Go Rural is a wonderful initiative which we are delighted to support. It will encourage more people to explore this country’s great outdoors and, with next year being the Year of Natural Scotland, the timing could not be better.”
Project partners for Go Rural! are Angus Council, the Association of Scotland's Self Caterers, NFU Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Land & Estates and VisitScotland.
Angus Council's tourism spokesman, Mairi Evans, said: “Angus Council is delighted to be part of Go Rural as it’s a great way of introducing the joys of rural Scotland to city-goers. In Angus visitors can enjoy Scotland at a more relaxed pace or reinvigorate themselves with a whole host of fantastic outdoor activities. All of these rural delights are quite literally within easy reach of city visitors looking to make the most of their short-stay in Scotland.”
Some of the 100 people attending the launch travelled by train, courtesy of ScotRail. Four wheel drive trucks to the castle were supplied by A.M.Phillip of Forfar, Highland Safaris and Newton Farm.
To register with Go Rural go to www.goruralscotland.com and start discovering your Scotland today.