Over 40 representatives from Scottish land-based businesses came together on Wednesday (19 October) to explore fresh approaches to rural tourism and gain valuable insight into Perthshire’s existing and successful presence in this growing market.
Held at Comrie Croft – one of Scotland's award-winning hostel, eco camping, and mountain-biking destinations - the demonstration day, organised by Scottish Land & Estates and Perth College UHI, studied existing tourism success stories inspired by Perthshire’s natural beauty and amenities. Delegates were encouraged to build on their current business momentum and continue to develop rural tourism in the region and further afield.
· One such success story is that of Paul Millard of Red Kite Yurts. Yurts are felt-covered and canvas covered structures traditionally used by nomads in Central Asia which have proved an extremely popular, luxurious alternative to traditional tents and marquees. Red Kite yurts are the result of a fusion between the skills of Paul and a Krgykstan yurt builder and are built using locally sourced green ash and canvass made in Dundee.
· Paul’s business links to that of Kate Sankey of West Mosside Farm, Thornhill, who introduced three Red Kite Yurts on her organic farm, acquired with help of a grant from the Scotland Rural Priorities Scheme. This has already proven a lucrative business move which has enabled her to target the broader tourism market but also offer residential craft courses.
Other speakers included Caroline Miller of The Hideaway Experience. She shared her insight on how she developed romantic hideaways on her family farm and stressed the importance of having professionals involved in taking a project from an idea to reality.
Delegates had the opportunity to gain inside knowledge from David Smythe of Cloag Farm Cottages who described how his cottages integrate with the working farm and the importance of social media. He also highlighted the benefits of working in collaboration with the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), the Perthshire Tourism Partnership and Tourism Intelligence Scotland.
Alison Seggie, Enterprise Manager with Perth & Kinross Council committed welcome support to local small business tourism in the area, offering one to one business advice on funding, networking, training and partnerships.
Pat Somerville, Rural Enterprise Project Officer with Scottish Land & Estates, commented:
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that the recession has increased the amount of Britons turning to the great outdoors, heading to the countryside and returning to the simple pleasures of life. Here exists a great opportunity for interested land based businesses to tap into this growing market by offering increasingly innovative products and packages to tourists. Scotland is a world class venue with enormous potential for us all to benefit from.
“Comrie Croft provided an exceptional location which perfectly suited the day and was in itself the ideal case study, as part of SLE's ongoing programme of successful Demonstration Days, which are open to non members. We’re grateful to all our speakers whose shared their wealth of knowledge, expert guidance and passion at the event. It was a real eye-opener and is bound to have inspired many to diversify into rural tourism.”