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25/07/2020

Go Rural Live Farm Tours Bring Scottish Farming to New Audiences

The ASSC sends congratulations to GoRural on the huge success of the Live Farm Tours over the past few months and welcomes Agri-Tourism Self-Catering Businesses to ASSC.

Scotland’s close-knit network of agritourism farmers have reached out to thousands of families stuck at home during lockdown by bringing a live daily virtual tour into living rooms via the Go Rural Facebook page.

Initially started by a few farming friends keen to cheer people up by conducting a daily virtual tour of fourteen different lambing sheds, two weeks of “Lambathon” had then become such a hit with audiences at home, that “Welcome to my Farm” followed on.

Almost one hundred farmers normally busy welcoming tourists and visitors in their agritourism side of their business have taken part so far, attracting ten thousand families watching live and generating a reach of almost two and a half million on Facebook. Seven hundred and fifty thousand minutes of videos of Scottish farm life have been watched to date, with many people watching the videos on “catch up” in the evenings. Many of those watching live outside Scotland, with a strong demand for an insight to Scottish rural life from people in the rest of the UK as well as daily viewers from the USA, Canada and European cities.

Caroline Millar, who with the support of Visit Scotland has helped to set up the daily tours commented, “All types of farming enterprise has been showcased from dairy farms in Dumfries and Galloway to hill sheep farms in Argyll, strawberries and soft fruit in Aberdeenshire to crofts in Shetland. As well as providing an insight to farming life to those watching, the agritourism entrepreneurs have been able to take people for a tour of their on-farm accommodation, farm cafes & shops, wedding venues and event spaces, with even a speed boat tour of Loch Lomond being featured. The hope in streaming the tourism and leisure experiences available, is that this will stimulate interest and demand to visit a Scottish farm post lockdown for a day out or holiday, generating considerable benefit for the rural economy.”

ASSC Agritourism GoRural

A survey of those who have been watching the tours has shown that learning more about Scottish food was one of the top reasons why people enjoyed watching the live tours. With a growing trend during Covid of the public buying direct from farmers and more and more agritourism businesses offering food experiences to guests, those behind Go Rural hope that the live tours will increase demand for Scottish farm produce and food tourism on farms. The strong interest in food has led to the next phase of the live tours, “Come to Lunch on my Farm” with local cooks and chefs now being invited on to farms for a live farm tour and a cookery demonstration using farm produce.

None of the farmers taking part had ever conducted a live tour on Facebook before, with all having to learn how to juggle using the technology with the adrenalin rush of broadcasting live to the world. Almost all have gone on to do conduct live tours on their own social media channels, with an increased confidence in speaking live to potential customers.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of Visit Scotland commented, “These virtual tours have been a shining example of how easy it is for businesses to use social media technology, alongside some wonderful content, to stay connected and inspire visitors from Scotland and around the world. From ‘Lambathon’ to ‘Welcome to my Farm’ and now developing that to cooking demonstrations is testament to the energy, enthusiasm and innovation of agri-tourism businesses here in Scotland. It’s a sector that has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and one which will continue to grow. Visitor trends and insights show us that people are favouring a rural setting to get away with family now that we are able to travel further, so these businesses are certainly well placed to capitalise on this and I’m sure will give guests a very warm Scottish welcome.”

The use of technology to bring together the agritourism network has also been highlighted by the sector coming together each week during Covid to support each other. Already a sector where there are strong networks and where farmers help each other out, the Covid lockdown virtual networking combined with the consumer facing Go Rural tours has led to the development of a new formal structure, Scottish Agritourism, to represent a unified voice for the sector. Scottish Agritourism sits within the umbrella of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, where agritourism has been represented within the STA Council for the past six years.

Commenting on the launch of Scottish Agritourism, Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the STA said “One of the most prominent good news stories to emerge from the Covid crisis has been the emergence of this growing appetite for people to feel and experience a connection to Scotland’s rural parts and Go Rural must be commended for tapping into this trend so quickly and innovatively to bring a piece of Scotland’s farming life into our homes.  The interests of the agritourism sector have been represented at the STA Council table for many years and we are delighted to have elevated this relationship to become a formal part of the STA membership offering; clearly there is a demand and a need for Scotland’s agritourism businesses to not only strengthen the voice of its members, but to share these wonderful examples of entrepreneurship to stimulate innovation across all of our tourism sectors.”

Find out more about joining Scottish Agritourism and ASSC Membership for Agri-Tourism Businesses Here

For more information on GoRural please contact:

Caroline Millar, Scottish Agritourism

caroline@goruralforbusiness.com

Tel 07584 660 541

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