New research and industry guide highlights potential of cycling tourism in Scotland

01/02/2023
Cycling in Scotland. (Photo: VisitScotland / Ian Rutherford)

A GROWING global interest in cycling presents a huge opportunity to further develop Scottish cycling tourism and for Scotland to establish itself as a world-class cycling destination, according to the national tourism organisation.

With the country set to host the 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships in August, VisitScotland has launched new research and a free industry guide looking at the value of cycling tourism and the opportunities for businesses to grow and develop Scotland’s offering.

Worth an estimated £37bn to the European economy, cycling tourism has grown in popularity in recent years. In Scotland, in 2019, UK overnight visitors who took part in cycling activities spent a total of £266m. The activity also generates an average of 238,000 page views every year to the national tourism organisation’s visitscotland.com website, with potential visitors seeking inspiration on routes, itineraries, and unmissable cycling experiences.

In its Scotland. Made for Cycling research paper, VisitScotland highlights the country’s 1,600 miles of National Cycle Network, world-class track cycling facilities, a series of new cycling initiatives and unmissable experiences such as mountain or gravel biking as examples of what makes Scotland’s cycling offering so attractive. The paper also looks at the growing global trend that fuelled bike sales during the pandemic, driven by people looking for active ways to spend time outdoors. 

Attention is given to other well-established cycling destinations that Scotland could learn from, such as Denmark and Switzerland.  Examples of best practice that helped these locations become outstanding cycling destinations include investment in infrastructure, cycle superhighways and bike hotels.

Figures show that Scotland’s share of Europe’s volume and value of cycling trips and spend based on UK visitors alone is only 0.5% and 0.8% respectively*, so increasing the number of cycling trips is a ‘huge opportunity for Scottish tourism.’

With 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships set to showcase not just Scotland’s events prowess but also the country’s unmissable cycling experiences, VisitScotland is also launching a free industry guide to show tourism businesses how to make the most of cycling tourism and the interest generated from the world’s biggest cycling event.

Hosted on VisitScotland.org, the online guide contains resources to ensure that businesses the length and breadth of the country can cater for an influx of cycling enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.

Included as part of the guide will be:

  • Practical advice on how businesses can create a high-quality experience for cyclists
  • Market insights from the latest cycling tourism research
  • Visitor Insights – which visitors are interested in cycling trips
  • Marketing advice- how to attract cycling visitors, and which channels to use 
  • Cycling tourism trends
  • Useful resources – information on routes, bike hire and public transport

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland Director of Industry and Destination Development said: “This summer, Scotland will host the biggest cycling event in the world, the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. This is a unique opportunity to showcase Scotland’s unmissable cycling experiences. We want to make sure tourism businesses are ready to capitalise on this unique opportunity. Our VisitScotland.org website will provide a clear and practical guide to help industry understand how to make the most of cycling tourism and the interest generated from the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.   

“There has never been a better time to experience cycling in Scotland, with new cycling initiatives and experiences being created right across the country, promoting cycling and helping businesses cater for this growing market will benefit communities right across the country. “

Trudy Lindblade, CEO of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, added:  “As we prepare to welcome thousands of elite and amateur cyclists and hundreds of thousands enthusiastic cycling fans to Scotland this summer, this is a fantastic opportunity for businesses in Scotland to be part of the biggest cycling event ever. This new online guide will help raise awareness of the Championships, and support the economic benefits that cycling tourism can create for Scotland longer term.  

“We look forward to working with VisitScotland and businesses across the tourism sector to welcome our competitors and spectators and ensure they have a warm Scottish welcome which will inspire them to return in future years.”

For more information about cycling tourism or to access VisitScotland’s industry guide, visit: https://visitscotland.org/cycling-tourism

* Based on UK overnight and day visitors who cycled during their trip

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