Scotland is being increasingly recognised as one of the premiere destinations for mountain biking across Europe.
Last week, project manager for Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS), Graeme McLean, presented at a conference in Norway to demonstrate the success of mountain biking tourism in Scotland.
Graeme explains why Scotland is the envy of emerging mountain bike destinations:
“We are seen as the blueprint for many countries that are developing their mountain biking offering. From the turn of the millennium, Scotland has innovated and created a series of world renowned mountain biking trail centres. By bringing quality, varied-ability trail networks together with other facilities such as cafes, changing facilities, bike shops and accommodation, the trail centres have created a complete package, encouraging new people into the sport and improving the experience for existing riders.”
As a result, Scotland’s trail centres have built significant economic gains; increased the health of the Scottish population; and helped Scottish riders achieve competitive success on the European and World stage. The centres themselves have evolved and improved, with new facilities developed at Glentress, Laggan, Nevis Range, Kirroughtree, Comrie Croft and Glenlivet. These new facilities, alongside the quality of trail provision across Scotland as a whole, are proving successful with mountain bikers who have been shown to spend more on their visits to local communities than other outdoor pursuits such as walking.
With such a successful product and offer in Scotland, why are DMBinS so keen to share their success story with other countries? Graeme explains: “Norway has a fantastic outdoor culture, strong economy and lots of mountain bikers, and potentially a great deal more, if the sport continues to grow in the manner it has. With low-cost flights running directly from Edinburgh and Aberdeen it is a great emerging market that we haven’t yet fully tapped into. Reaching out in this way also gives us the opportunity to form partners across Europe and see if there are common issues or opportunities that could be solved by working together.”
The conference was hosted by Innovation Norway, a government agency which promotes nationwide industrial development profitable to both the business economy and Norway’s national economy. Haaken Christensen, who works for Innovation Norway tourism division, was impressed by the Scottish mountain bike success story and the tourism model behind the activity. Haaken explains: “The analysis of the economic case for mountain biking is very strong in Scotland. We see Scotland as leading the way across the world in terms of partnership working and building strong arguments for its future.”
Also presenting at the conference was Are Sorensen, Board member of both the Norwegian MTB advocacy organization, NOTS (Norsk organisasjon for terrengsykkel) and of International Mountain Bike Association Europe (IMBA Europe). Are, is very impressed with the Scottish approach: “We understand that to develop mountain biking successfully, you need to understand the bigger picture of how it can contribute to so many government targets. The approach taken in Scotland is particularly interesting and effective. By having a joined-up strategy on access, participation, sport, tourism & economic development it is leading the way in developing the sport.”
DMBinS project manager Graeme McLean also presented at a conference on mountain biking development in Holland in April.
For more information on the National Strategy for Mountain Biking in Scotland and the projects and initiatives that have evolved from it, visit www.DMBinS.com