The positive effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on adventure tourism in Scotland and emerging global trends will be explored at a yearly event next week.
VisitScotland, in partnership with Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland, will host the virtual event, which will run from November 16-20.
The pandemic has seen an increase in interest in outdoor adventures, with cycling, running and open water swimming growing in popularity among Scots both during and post lockdown.
Scotland’s landscape and climate make it ideal for the growing interest from visitors in adventure and nature-related activities, from mountain biking, sailing and rafting to more gentle experiences such as foraging and wild camping.
Last year, there was 290,000 overnight visits to Scotland where adventure sports were part of the trip, contributing £112 million in spend.
Walking and hiking were the most popular activity amongst overnight visitors, with 1.6 million trips involving a long walk, hike or ramble – more than two miles – and 2.7m trips involving a short walk or stroll – up to 2 miles.
Marine Tourism is valued at £411m with sailing accounting for £131m
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead, who will open the week, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism industry and has changed the lives of people right across the country.
“With wellness and outdoor pursuits, such as cycling, walking and wild swimming, becoming a focus for many during and post lockdown, adventure travel has been identified as an area for potential growth in the domestic market.
“Adventure Tourism Week is an opportunity for the industry to hear from leading experts on trends and areas where businesses can collaborate and adapt in a sustainable way as we navigate through the pandemic.”
The five-day programme of live webinars is aimed at the active, wildlife and marine tourism sectors and will feature expert speakers from Scotland and beyond providing insights into the multi-million-pound industry and the importance of the domestic market.
Adventure Tourism Week will showcase a selection of businesses and how they are adapting to the crisis.
The webinars will also examine the sector’s important role within Scotland’s tourism industry and how it can help lead Scotland’s ambition to become a leading responsible tourism destination.
It will culminate in Wild Scotland’s annual general meeting on the Friday, November 20.
Social media users can interact with the discussion using the hashtag #ScotATW.
Douglas McAdam, executive chairman of Wild Scotland, said: “We are blessed in Scotland with some of the most impressive natural landscapes and wildlife on the planet, and this, combined with our world leading approach to responsible access, make Scotland a unique and special destination for responsible adventure, wildlife and activity tourism.
“Adventure Tourism Week will give us the chance to show case this, learn from each other, discuss how best we can further develop the amazing potential we have and work together to ensure our industry in Scotland plays its part to really drive the sustainable recovery in the Tourism sector and the Scottish economy.”
Alan Rankin, Sail Scotland’s chief executive, said: “The commercial sailing charter and holiday sectors have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
“This event will provide a positive stepping-stone for future planning, provide a much-needed confidence boost to businesses and help focus attention on the sector that can be at the very heart of tourism recovery in Scotland.”