What are the opportunities in the country sports market for you?

Is there potential within the market to increase cross-over between the different activities? What are the other opportunities to grow visitors in this market?


Whether already operating in the sector or running a tourism business in Scotland, there are still a number of different ways in which businesses can collaborate to improve the country sports visitor’s experience of Scotland. This might include a traditional country sport business making some small changes in how they present their core product (online bookings, tour operators etc.); or significant changes to the product or service that they offer through diversification into new areas.

Businesses close to a country sport provider might want to collaborate and engage with the provider to offer a stronger regional proposition to visitors. No matter how a business might want to change to become more attractive to the visitor, it should start by understanding what the visitor wants from their experience and develop the product or service to meet that expectation.

How can you create the perfect country sport experience?

Scotland is a world leader in country sports. Visitors regularly cite the activity as secondary to the other qualities that the country offers – such as scenery, tradition, and privacy.

Research shows that our shooting and fishing businesses suggest that their activity and incomes would be further enhanced by the quality of the Scottish product and offering. Like any industry, there are challenges facing the sector. Technology, bookings and management, perceived value for money as well as the overall impact of rising costs are obvious factors. Specific to country sports, challenges also include the regulatory environment on the stock of quarry i.e. hunted species, decline and vulnerability of fish stocks, quality and variety of fish, conservation and rural access.

Yet, despite these challenges, the country sports sector is enjoying steady and continued growth – the value of the overall sector and related businesses to the Scottish economy has grown in excess of £120 million in the past nine years (country sports tourism specifically by £25 million), despite tough economic conditions. This has been brought about by the sector embracing change to suit the needs of the country sports tourist. Opportunities for further growth don’t only exist within the sector, but to a wide variety of tourism businesses which can benefit from supporting the country sport providers.

How can you stretch your season using country sports?

Think local

It is estimated that a significant proportion (82% for shooting providers) of expenditure goes to local suppliers, primarily within 10-15 miles of the country sport site

Country sport providers can support local businesses with payment for various related goods and services; from fencing, game cover crops, machinery, fuel etc. as well as the wages of local staff e.g. game keepers, etc.

Other opportunities for local businesses to capitalise when the shooters’ or fishing guests’ spend locally; for example, spending money on guns, ammunition, tackle, bait, specialist clothing and accessories, travel, etc.

There are a number of opportunities for non-country sports businesses to collaborate with the providers. For example supplying local non-game produce for their kitchens, providing cleaning services for when guests leave or even additional/alternative accommodation.


Businesses local to a country sports provider could further benefit by considering how they can enhance the overall experience of the visiting country sports tourist to the region.

Questions to consider could include:

  • Do you stock equipment that a visitor might require on such a holiday?
  • Do you have services that they might require e.g. catering for on-the-move lunches?
  • Do you have 4x4 transportation or quad bikes for hire?
  • Could you provide transportation to and from local hotels/accommodation for night-time events, such as ceilidhs and whisky tastings?
  • fishing tackle
  • photography stalking
  • dog and equipment
  • traditional fishing
Shooting lady

Many country sports providers are well established in the sector and most have developed their product to reflect the natural strengths of Scotland and the changing requirements of participants from increasingly wider markets. Many have moved with the times and diversified what they offer to also include accommodation; however, there are still many other opportunities to develop activities or services which may be of interest to visitors during their stay, or which might even attract new visitors.

Identifying what these might be for your business starts with understanding what your existing or potential visitor wants from their experience.

Every business is different, so will be the potential opportunity, however, some ideas to get the process stared could include:

  • Can the country sports provider offer more than one type of shooting, for example combining walked up and other driven game within avian and mammalian pest, grouse or deer stalking?
  • Out with the open seasons, is it possible to undertake stalking for photography purposes?
  • Could your estate build in an aspect of conservation activity to attract those visitors keen to take part in environmental activities to help them consider the landscape in which their species of quarry exists?
  • Can your staff offer cookery courses to include using the captured quarry?

Country sports is about the thrill of being out in Scotland’s stunning landscapes, interacting with nature.

Outdoor activities graph

What else are country sports visitors doing on their trip?

Most country sports providers already know that the majority of visitors also enjoy other activities as part of their trip to Scotland. Recent research identified visitors showed a general interest in other countryside activities and Scottish history and heritage.

Through collaborative working, country sport providers and local businesses can broaden the visitor’s experience of Scotland. Many country sport visitors have their own transportation, so providers can enhance their visitors’ experience by sign posting to other nearby outdoor activities or scenic walking routes, or to visitor attractions.

Understanding who the visitor is

VisitScotland has identified and segmented the visitors who are coming to Scotland. A suggestion of how just two of these groups could be exposed to the opportunities afforded by country sports are reviewed here:

walkers on hills

Adventure Seekers

(1.2 million UK households, 9% of target UK households)

Adventure Seekers want an active holiday where they can enjoy both outdoor and cultural activities. They will venture off the beaten track and will be engaged by trying new things and pushing their limits and experiences. Holidays will really energise them

Tourism businesses could adapt their advertisement of their product by highlighting to these types of visitors the scenery, nature, rural outdoors, cultural activities and experiences which will challenge them or appeal to their sense of adventure whilst enjoying country sports.

Country sports organisations can make themselves more attractive to the ‘adventure seeker’ market, who is looking for multiple challenging experiences, by providing details of all the other nearby attractions and activities which a visitor can enjoy in addition to their own product or service.

Food is critical image of quote

Food-Loving Culturalists

(1.6 million UK households, 12% of target UK households)

“Food-Loving Culturalists will seek out a relaxing holiday experience where they can enjoy great food and drink and engaging cultural activities. They enjoy short breaks in the UK and will recommend quality experiences when their host has gone the ‘extra mile.’”

The public’s awareness of game and the wide variety of fish available in Scottish waters is growing; this, coupled with a desire to appreciate the provenance of their food, means that a country sport provider that can promote a ‘field to plate’ packaged holiday is a very attractive proposition to this market. Food providers should take this opportunity to attract this type of visitor by listing local game on the menu.


Country sports can be perceived as expensive and there is very little awareness of the range of price levels on offer - from £3 to £20,000 for large groups.

By developing and promoting different packages, providers could extend their season; for example, fill empty spaces with mid-week special deals, create out of season ‘learner’ packages for practising stalking or shooting, or develop ‘introduction to’ packages which sees the visitor spending more time exploring the countryside and understanding the environmental benefits to the sport. Making the best use of downtime at an estate’s existing facilities can also offer new opportunities for businesses.

Could there be scope for collaboration with other tourism businesses? Perhaps a local business could bring visitors to use only part of the regular full service e.g. just stalking, no shooting, which would attract a unique price point? For example, a small sightseeing trip organised by a tour group visiting a working estate to meet a ghillie and learn about the necessity of land management, practise target shooting, see a cookery demonstration of the quarry, before enjoying a meal and moving on. This short activity could be undertaken during quieter periods, thus generating income during ‘down time’ for the estate and providing a unique product for the tour operator.

Next: What is the sector’s strategy?

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Funded by Scottish Enterprise