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Leisure cycle tourism could be worth nearly £250 million a year to Scottish economy, says report

Transform Scotland says country needs to be branded as a "must-visit destination"...

Leisure cycle tourism couuld be worth nearly £250 million to the Scottish economy each year, according to a new report which says that efforts must be made to brand the country as a “must-visit destination” for the activity.

The report, called The Value of Cycle Tourism, has been published today by transport campaign group Transform Scotland, in partnership with Sustrans Scotland.

Transform Scotland is a national sustainable transport alliance, members of which include rail, bus and shipping operators, local authorities, national environment and conservation groups, businesses and local transport groups.

According to the report, the money spent by locals and visitors alike is higher than previous estimates suggested, and there is huge growth potential that could help make leisure cycling one of Scotland’s leading tourist activities, including through marketing to a broader range of groups and promoting routes, especially in rural areas.

It says that depending on the source used, leisure cycle tourism benefits the Scottish economy to the tune of between £117.2 million and £239 million to the Scottish economy each year.

The vast majority of that money represents expenditure by visitors and locals, but it also includes £4 million in health benefits, £5.6 million to leisure cycling events and £1.5 million for leisure cycling-related infrastructure.

Once mountain biking is added, the overall benefit to the economy rises to between between £236.2m and £358m annually, according to the report.

The report makes ten recommendations, which Transform Scotland says are aligned with the ‘Priorities for Action’ identified in the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s 2012 strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020. Grouped under four main headings, those recommendations are:


1. Strengthen leadership and coordination across the sector

2. Deliver better collaboration between local/regional stakeholders


3. Establish more comprehensive monitoring arrangements

4. Focus promotional activities on key market segments

5. Brand Scotland as a top destination for cycle touring

6. Develop key themed areas for leisure cycle tourism


7. Continue the development and marketing of cycle routes 8. enhance information provision and technology integration


9. Continue to support cycle events, and extend this support to smaller events

10. Create a development strategy for the growth of cycle tourism.

Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, commented: "Our report demonstrates the value of cycle tourism to the Scottish economy.

“From family day-trips to one-day cycle events to long-distance tours, it's clear that leisure cycling makes a significant economic contribution.

“While Scotland has built up a reputation for mountain biking, much more could be done to brand Scotland as a 'must-visit' destination for cycle tourists and leisure trips.

"There is substantial room for growth in touring and leisure cycling and with appropriate promotion could make an even greater contribution to Scotland's economy.

“Our report sets out a strategic direction for both public sector bodies and the private sector in taking forward the expansion of the sector so that it can play its full role in Scotland's tourism strategy."

John Lauder, director of Sustrans Scotland, said: "Scotland can become a top cycling country with leisure and touring cycling a must-do activity for residents and visitors alike.

“It has the potential to generate substantial economic benefits, particularly in rural areas, for a very small expenditure by councils, government and agencies.

"We are sitting on an untapped potential that, with minimal investment, we could quickly realise. As business opportunities go, this is a no-brainer.

“However, more needs to be done to promote leisure and touring cycling to a broader range of people, making it more attractive to beginners, women and young people.

“To realise this great potential there needs to be greater development and marketing of themed cycle routes, including greater visibility for the National Cycle Network and the EuroVelo routes when Scotland markets and promotes itself."

Scottish Government Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing added: "Transform Scotland's report highlights how important cycling is to our tourism economy.

“Our natural environment is the number one reason why people visit Scotland and the Scottish Government is committed to making it as accessible as possible, which is why we are investing £3 million over this year and next in the Oban to Inverness cycle route.

"A successful, buoyant visitor economy – employing local people, using local suppliers and supporting local economies – contributes to a more successful Scotland.

"Outdoor pursuits, such as cycling, play an important part in this and this year as we celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland there is no better time to appreciate the beautiful landscape on our doorstep."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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brandobiker | 10 years ago

There is a cycle path from Glasgow to Edinburgh .

Roscoemck | 10 years ago

Properly maintained cycle paths would be a start. I use the A77 route at least once a week and while it is good to have, it could do with the attentions of a roadsweeper on a regular basis.

Also stopping cars parking on cyle paths must happen or there is no point having them.

Byron Silver | 10 years ago

Given the relatively small distances between towns in the central belt, a proper integrated Dutch style network of cycleways should be invested in. All Scottish ministers ever bang on about is leisure facilities. Fair enough but I like to think that if I felt like it one day I could just hop on my bike and cycle to Ayr or Stirling without having to use canal towpaths or railway paths or short bits of road like the old A77 which is great till it reaches Fenwick then just stops. Don't get me wrong without railway paths etc many people probably wouldn't even go for a Sunday cycle, so they have their place. If only we had politicians with vision and the political will to make big changes in this country. I firmly believe through talking to people about cycling as a commuter that there is a substantial portion of the populace ready to embrace cycling as a viable method of making short journeys if only they could get past their fear of sharing space with traffic. I posted elsewhere and still believe this to be true, build good cycle infrastructure and they will flock to use it.

workhard | 10 years ago

The last few years, a group of us have injected well over £1500 per year into the Scottish economy via cycling mini-tour holidays there. Had a whale of a time each year and didn't have to drive a single mile to do it. Though we did cheat a bit this year, and ride from Glasgow to Carlisle via Ayr, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright and Annan, and caught a train from Carlisle back to London.

Thank goodness for the Caledonian Sleeper, Advance rail fares, and Virgin trains I say.

farrell | 10 years ago

Sadly, A lot of the people they are trying to market to will be the same people who signed petitions to show that they were horrified that one of their motorists was allowed to kill two cyclists in separate incidents and get away relatively unpunished.

It's like encouraging dog walkers to Korea.

bobbypuk | 10 years ago

Sort the transport out and it becomes more attractive. I'd love to cycle from Oban to Inverness, I might not be so keen on cycling back again to rejoin my car though.

I say this from the experience of trying to get 4 riders back at the end of LEJOG. Hire cars should not have been the answer.

thebungle | 10 years ago


A summers evening ride through the raspberry fields of the north east before heading up into the mountains the next day to reach the ski resort at Glen Shee.

It doesn't have quite the ring to it that heading off to France does but with clever marketing it could really take off.

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