With beautiful landscapes and a vast wilderness, it’s no wonder that Scotland is a world class mountain biking destination. But with increasing competition from Wales and the North of England, it must continue to evolve to maintain its strong market share.
By investing in good quality built facilities, Scotland captured the attention of the international mountain biking market. There has been a big increase in visitor numbers, thanks to initiatives like the 7stanes development in Southern Scotland.
For sustainable development Scotland needs to stay at the forefront of mountain biking advancements. The key to success is to broaden the market whilst maintaining and developing existing facilities.
Visitors who come to Scotland solely or mainly for mountain biking spend £46.5 million, with indirect expenditure of up to £119 million.
Where it is the main reason and/or a key part of their trip mountain biking supports 1,360 FTEs; and £26.6 million GVA
Some of the best-known mountain biking centres are Laggan Wolftrax in Inverness-shire, Witch’s Trails at Fort William and the 7stanes network in Southern Scotland.
7stanes is a key motivator for biking visitors to Scotland (70 per cent of trail centre visits, over 400,000 visitors per annum), so successful promotion is important for the whole market.
Opportunities to grow
The 7stanes site has benefited from promoting centres in a geographical group. By collaborating, centres can be packaged and marketed as one.
Overnight stays account for 86 per cent of total expenditure, so links with accommodation providers are beneficial. Centres can also link with tourist destinations and promote in conjunction with other adventure activities.
What visitors want and need
The family market needs tailored products, preferably linked to other activities, e.g. an off-road cycle centre in an established family holiday destination.
Improved joint marketing/packaging and linkages between centres is required, particularly in the North of Scotland.
Trails should perhaps also be linked to a wide range of other activities to encourage families and children.
Things you should know
If improvements continue, visitor numbers across the country will grow by an average of 35 per cent.
Growth is important, but only if the current market is safeguarded.
If you remember one thing
Mountain biking is a strong market and a huge potential growth area for Scotland. Tourism businesses based in mountain biking areas should collaborate to achieve this growth.
- Source - ‘Economic Value of Mountain Biking in Scotland’ Executive summary by EKOS Limited and Tourism Resources Company for Scottish Enterprise, April 2009.