From kayak instructors to fishing gurus, dozens of Activity Providers throughout Scotland are now making the grade thanks to the national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, which has launched the world’s first Activity Provider grading scheme.
And the timing couldn’t be better, with the founder of one of Scotland’s first five-star Activity Providers describing a major international summit in the Highlands as “a once in a generation opportunity”.
Paul Easto, co-director of Edinburgh-based Wilderness Scotland, said of the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), which takes place in Aviemore this week: “I think it’s a once in a generation opportunity for Scotland to present itself to the world’s adventure travel trade. It’s a really exciting prospect for us and I hope delegates go away talking about Scotland and that they are desperate to return.”
This weekend, Mr. Easto took a group of summit delegates on an adventure bike ride from Pitlochry to the conference in Aviemore. Around 600 delegates from more than 50 different countries have descended on the Highlands to take part in the conference, which has been organised by the Seattle-based Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). Bringing together tour operators, destination management organisations and a host of other industry experts, the summit is the global adventure travel industry’s main annual conference.
It is the first time the ATWS has been held in the UK and only the second time it has been held in Europe. Guest speakers will include Jim Mather, Scotland’s Minister for Tourism, and VisitScotland Chairman Mike Cantlay.
Over the weekend, delegates and international journalists have been taking part in a series of Pre-Summit Adventures all over Scotland, from rafting in Perthshire to wildlife treks in the Outer Hebrides. Wilderness Scotland organised three of these adventures, including the bike ride from Pitlochry to the conference.
Mr Cantlay said: “In partnership with the Cairngorms National Park, VisitScotland is delighted to be hosting the seventh Adventure Travel World Summit. This fantastic event will help to enhance Scotland’s reputation as the adventure capital of Europe, bringing a healthy return on investment. Whether you are into rock climbing, bungee jumping or more easily accessible adventures such as taking a stroll and enjoying the stunning scenery, there are an enormous range of exciting outdoor activities available.”
VisitScotland’s new Activity Provider grading scheme will benefit the growing number of Activity Providers, such as fishing tour operators and canoe instructors, who run their businesses without a visitor premises – those who meet their customers, for example, by a loch, on the beach or at the base of a mountain. Up until now, businesses could be graded only as a Visitor Attraction or Accommodation Provider and those companies without a fixed premises could not receive a grading.