Wild Scotland and Activity Scotland announced today the merger of the two organisations to create the Wildlife and Adventure Tourism Association. This reflects the global change in the tourism market, with people becoming more active and wanting a complete range of “adventure” in their holidays, from high adrenaline to soft adventure.
The merger will unlock the strong synergy between the two organisations and create clear benefits for members and visitors. Nature based tourism is a key sector for the Scottish economy. The most recent figures for tourism show there are currently 2.5 million nature-based trips made each year in Scotland, generating £759 million revenue. This is expected to rise to 3.7 million trips by 2015. The new organisation will bring together all outdoor activity providers and offer a ‘one stop shop’ for visitors looking for outdoor activities in Scotland.
Central to the new organisation is the continued importance of the sustainability and best practice. For members the merger also means greater resources and a louder voice. As a sectoral management group, the association will concentrate resources on areas that are important to the operators including advocacy and marketing. This news comes hot on the heels of the Adventure Travel World Summit in Aviemore last October and during the “Year of Active”, a Scottish Government initiative aimed at encouraging more people to get involved in outdoor activities and sport.
There is wide recognition amongst the industry that adventure means different things to different people. One person’s adventure might be a walk through a forest whilst another’s might be white-water rafting. Frieda Bos, Chair of Activity Scotland explains: “You don’t have to be an adrenalin junkie to enjoy adventure – everyone enjoys adventure. With the two organisations coming together we can really showcase what Scotland has to offer across the whole spectrum of adventure.”
Ben Mardall, Wild Scotland’s Chairman comments: “This is a logical move for both organisations. We are able to pool resources and leverage the synergy between Activity Scotland and Wild Scotland. In the current economic climate it is critical that we ensure the strongest possible foundation for our members. This move will allow us to represent Scotland far better on an international stage.”
Launched in 2003, Wild Scotland is the sole association for wildlife and nature-based tourism operators in Scotland. Comprising over 90 members, the association has successfully worked to promote Scotland as Europe’s number one wildlife watching destination. Wild Scotland is passionate about Scotland’s natural heritage and works to encourage the sustainable development and promotion of responsible wildlife tourism. Its members offer some of the most varied wildlife-watching experiences in Europe and the association brings these operators together to develop Scotland’s tourism product, promoting the key issues of sustainability, access and biodiversity.
Activity Scotland’s roots stretch back to 1987 when the Scottish Activity Holiday Association (SAHA) was formed to promote activity holidays in Scotland. The association has represented activity providers ever since. As well as marketing activities, the group represents the trade on various national committees and was of particular importance during the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001when large parts of the Scottish countryside were closed.
The merger has been welcomed internationally. President of the international Adventure Travel Trade Association, Shannon Stowell says, “Clearly there is a global trend towards more authentic and adventurous travel being demanded by customers. The merger of Wild Scotland and Activity Scotland means that together these organizations will be able to represent more strength together than on separate tracks. The more united our organizations are worldwide, the more this industry can drive economic value and be about the business of protecting the planet’s best offerings of wildlife, environment and unique human culture”.
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, says: “It is important that the tourism industry works together in order to help boost economic growth. Adventure tourism is a focal point of our current marketing activity and the creation of the Wildlife and Adventure Tourism Association is exciting news for anyone looking to get out and about and enjoy Scotland’s great outdoors.”
The new amalgamated organisation will represent the core of the “adventure” tourism operators in Scotland.