Adventure Tourism In Scotland - HIE PDF

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www.hie.co.ukAdventure TourismIn ScotlandResearch Report – August 2015

TABLE OF CONTENTS1INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH . 32ADVENTURE TOURISM IN SCOTLAND – WHAT DO WE MEAN? . 53ADVENTURE TOURISM IN SCOTLAND – WHAT DID WE ALREADY KNOW?. 84THE ADVENTURE TOURISM SECTOR IN SCOTLAND – WHERE IS IT NOW? . 165HOW DOES THE AT SECTOR IN SCOTLAND WORK? . 306HOW ADVENTURE TOURISM IN SCOTLAND COMPARES TO THE REST OF THEWORLD . 467KEY SECTOR GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES . 598CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS . 71

1Introduction to the Research1.1It is an exciting time to report on the Adventure Tourism (AT) sector in Scotland. AT isgrowing rapidly globally and Scotland has a world class product. There is increasingrecognition of the value of the outdoors to the Scottish economy, and this is evident throughthe research findings. AT covers a range of activities, such as walking and climbing, cyclingand biking, river activities, marine activities, wildlife and nature watching and snow activities.About the review and what it covers1.2The review is a pan-Scotland study led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Ithas been conducted by ekosgen, in partnership with the University of the Highlands andIslands (UHI) Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research (CRTR), and ReferenceEconomic Consultants. Steering group representation has included VisitScotland, ScottishEnterprise (SE), Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scottish Tourism Alliance(STA).1.3At a headline level the review assesses the scale and scope of AT activity acrossScotland. Specifically, the research: Provides an overview of the size, shape and composition of Scotland’s AT market,including an overview of the business base and an illustration of how the key playersengage with one another in showcasing and distributing their products and services.The review seeks to further segment the AT market by geography and sub-sector toprovide insights into where cluster activity is prominent and where opportunities forniche development exist. Reviews the existing information on market demand, and identifies the mostsignificant growth opportunities for the sector in Scotland and the priorityinfrastructure and investment requirements to meet and accelerate theseopportunities. The role of the public sector, private sector and landowners in meetingthese requirements is also explored. Identifies barriers impacting on Scotland’s capability to meet the infrastructure andinvestment requirements, providing recommendations on how these may beaddressed. Analyses how competitive and innovative the Scottish AT product offering is againstdestinations worldwide, identifying where Scotland has the best competitiveadvantage.How the research was conducted1.4The research has been wide ranging, seeking to achieve breadth of coverage andmore in-depth sector insight. In line with the study objectives, it has sought to establish theshape and composition of the sector, how key players interact with one another and to identifygrowth opportunities and sector support requirements. This has been achieved throughextensive primary research supplemented by desk-based research and an internationalbenchmarking exercise. The research did not aim to quantify the value of the sector.1.5Specifically, the research has consisted of: Identification of 351 AT businesses in Scotland, through liaison with trade bodies,Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) and membership organisations;3

Analysis of 214 completed AT business proformas which included basic businessinformation on location, offer/ product, employment, turnover and growth plans(including business confidence relating to growth/ decline); Some 71 further qualitative in-depth telephone interviews of a representative sampleof AT businesses; Consultation with 24 key stakeholders with a view on the AT sector. As well as thereview Steering Group this has included geographical and sub-sector representativeorganisations; Three workshops involving a selection of businesses, stakeholders and industryrepresentatives. An additional group session was held with delegates of the WildScotland Annual Industry Conference in November 2014;1.6A full description of the methodology used in this study is provided at Appendix A.How the report works1.7The report is structured in the following way: Chapter 2 – provides a detailed definition of the Adventure Tourism sector in Scotlandand the assumptions that were applied when collecting businesses’ details. Chapter 3 – provides a contextual overview of the Adventure Tourism sector andsummarises previous research. Chapter 4 – details the AT sector in Scotland, including the profile of businesses, theirlocation, their size in terms of employment and turnover and their growth plans. Chapter 5 – gives an analysis on the AT sector market, including details on subsectors, their scale and scope, product offers, and SWOT analyses. Chapter 6 – benchmarks Scotland’s sector against other international locations andScottish destination hubs against other international destination hubs. Chapter 7 – outlines the key growth opportunities and challenges for the AT sector,identified through primary research for the study. Chapter 8 – provides conclusions and recommendations for future investmentpriorities in the AT sector in Scotland. Appendix A – details the full methodology used throughout the research study. Appendix B is the initial proforma used with businesses for the mapping exercise. Appendix C contains the in-depth interview questionnaires used with the selection ofadventure tourism businesses. Appendices D through H provide additional data to complement the benchmarkingexercise at Chapter 4.4

2Adventure Tourism in Scotland – what do we mean?Introduction2.1This chapter details the definition of Adventure Tourism (AT) used by the study teamfor this commission and any assumptions which were made throughout the research.Definition of Adventure Tourism2.2The definition of the AT sector used for this study is the now commonly held sectordefinition developed in the Adventure Tourism in Scotland – Market Analysis Report 2010,and is as follows: Walking/Climbing: mountain walks/treks, long distance trails, rock climbing andmountaineering; Cycling/Biking: cycle touring and mountain biking; River Activities: canoeing, kayaking, rafting and canyoning; Marine Activities: sailing, kayaking, surfing and diving; Wildlife/Nature Watching: boat and vehicle excursions and walking; and Snow Activities: ski-ing, snowboarding, ski-touring, snow-shoeing and ice climbing.2.3There are also other high adrenaline, specialist activities which fall under the blanketof AT, such as sky-diving, bungee jumping, river-bugging and caving. These activities havebeen included in the sector definition for this study; although they are typically considered less1valuable in terms of visitor spend given their more narrow definition, and in relative terms, thefewer numbers of already well informed participants who are involved in these activities.2.4In defining the sector using the sub-sectors above, we have been mindful throughoutto cover both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ adventure. Soft adventure can be described as ‘a travelexperience that goes beyond the typical tourist itinerary. is rewarding for the spirit and the2mind. is safe without excessive physical demands’ . Examples of soft adventure activitiesinclude camping, walking on gradually changing terrain and flat/short route bicycling. Softadventure is the most popular form of AT because it is available to a wide range of people asless physical effort is required, there are usually lower risks, tours/ activities are generallyover shorter lengths and the activities suit a variety of budgets.2.5Hard adventure, on the other hand, is a travel experience that has ‘more physicalchallenges, a higher element of risk, is rewarding to the spirit, and pushes people outside of3the comfort zone’ . Examples of such activities include mountain biking, white water rafting,kayaking, mountaineering and bungee jumping. Hard adventure tends to appeal to a morespecific audience because a certain level of physical fitness can be required, tours/ activitiesmay vary in length and they are often relatively expensive and require certain equipment.However, these audiences can still include generalists/ dabblers and beginners, and stillprovide a good return to the economy.2.6The adventure tourism activity of estates is also covered under this review, forexample the Atholl Estates, as well as the activities of the likes of Torridon Hotel in Wester1Adventure Tourism in Scotland, Market Analysis Report (2010) Paul Easto and Caroline ploads/2010/12/TIG-report.pdf2Otago Polytechnic, Adventure Tourism presentation.3ibid5

Ross which offers activities such as mountain guiding, gorge scrambling, sea kayaking andcanoeing to guests and locals. Although not dedicated or confined to adventure tourismactivities and experiences, these providers are nonetheless an important part of the sector.Country sports, however, are not covered by the review.The Adventure Tourism Wheel2.7The diagram below displays an ‘Adventure Tourism’ brand essence wheel, devisedby VisitScotland, which shows words or phrases associated with a particular brand or product– in this case, Adventure Tourism in Scotland. The wheel displays visitor perceptions on arational (‘what the product does for me’) to an emotional (‘how the brand makes me look/feel’)scale. This illustrates the breadth of the adventure tourism sector and the range ofmotivations for participation across activities, experiences, centres, tours and attractions.Figure 2.1Source: Scotland’s Brand: Views from the UK Consumer (2011) Visit Scotland, p.4Three types of adventure business2.8AT businesses typically fall into three types of business – activity/experienceproviders, tour operators and activity centres and attractions - although some straddle theclassifications. Nonetheless, the typologies are useful in consideration of the specific needsand opportunities related to each one. The three types of business are expanded uponbelow:1) Activity and Experience Providers – this category contains the largest number ofbusinesses and may include, for example, mountain guides, wildlife boat cruises,river rafting operators and canoeing instructors. These businesses are typically basedin one location but may provide their activities on a regional or national basis.Activities and experiences may last from a couple of hours (group kayaking) toseveral days (guided walk along the West Highland Way).2) Adventure Travel Tour Operators – this category contains businesses that are fullyfledged tour operators, providing customers with a package of services including6

accommodation, transport, guides and equipment as required. These operators maywork on a fixed departure group basis and typically operate throughout Scotland,although some tour operators specialise in particular regions (e.g. Outer Hebrides).These businesses may work directly with the consumer or through intermediaries,such as travel agents or DMOs.3) Activity Centres and Attractions – this third category includes the many activitycentres and attractions throughout Scotland that provide a range of adventure andnature based experiences. Some centres specialise in training, personal developmentand personal qualifications, while many focus on the delivery of educational servicesto local authorities and youth groups. Some of the centres have a leisure andcorporate focus, offering a range of on-site activities, and many have on-siteaccommodation in which customers can both dine and stay overnight.2.9Given the differences between the three groups of businesses, the report draws outthe distinctions between them throughout the review analyses. In particular, tour operatorsbehave quite differently, and have different demands and level of influence/impact, thanactivity/ experience providers and centres and attractions.What is and is not included2.10A number of assumptions have been made for this study in terms of included andexcluded activities, and these are outlined below for clarity. Golf activity is not classed as Adventure Tourism. Go-karting and segway activity is not classed as Adventure Tourism. Hire businesses (e.g. cycle hire) are not included in the research (unless they alsoprovided the activity). Similar retail outlets such as cycle shops are excluded, againunless they are direct providers of activity. Club organisations (e.g. Falkirk canoe club) are not included in the research, as,although some provide adventure activities, they are membership based and nottypically accessed by tourists. Other businesses in the supply chain (e.g. accommodation providers, hire businessesetc.) are not included in the research, unless they also provided an activity. Local Authorities (councils) are not included in the research, although some may beactivity providers/ centres or attractions. Regional Bodies (e.g. HIE, Scottish Enterprise etc) are not included in the research. International tour operators based outside Scotland are not included, althoughAdventure Tourism tour operators based in Scotland (who may include some toursoutside Scotland as part of their business) are covered by the research.2.11Further, there are some Adventure Tourism businesses (activity providers,centres/attractions and tour operators) that have not been covered in the research, althoughevery effort was made to ensure as complete coverage as possible. The authors were partlyreliant on the co-operation of umbrella organisations providing AT business details, so insome geographic areas there may be under-representation of sector businesses.7

3Adventure Tourism in Scotland – what did we alreadyknow?Introduction3.1There is extensive research into the AT sector as a whole in Scotland, as well asresearch undertaken in relation to a number of the sub-sectors. This existing research,summarised below, tends to focus primarily on market demand and less on understanding thecomposition of the sector and any current geographical clustering of activity.A word on the existing research3.2It is worth noting that no research exists that provides a comprehensive overview ofthe scale of the AT sector in Scotland which is current and up-to-date. This is particularly thecase in relation to employment and impact in the sector, and opportunities for sector growth.3.3The research reports that do exist are now becoming dated, and many are prerecession. They focus primaril

2 Adventure Tourism in Scotland – what do we mean? Introduction 2.1 This chapter details the definition of Adventure Tourism (AT) used by the study team for this commission and any assumptions which were made throughout the research. Definition of Adventure Tourism 2.2 The definition of the AT sector used for this study is the now commonly held sector definition developed in the Adventure ...