Scotland should be branded as a must visit destination for cycle tourism, according to a new report by a leading transport campaign group.
Transform Scotland  today (Tuesday 11th) launched the report 'The Value of Cycle Tourism', which sets out the multi-million benefits to the Scottish economy from cycle tourism.
According to the report the total value of cycle tourism - by residents and visitors, touring and leisure cycling - in Scotland is up to £239m per year. 
This figure is significantly higher than previous research suggests and Transform Scotland says there is massive scope for growth to make leisure cycling one of Scotland’s top tourism activities.
In the report, published in partnership with Sustrans Scotland, Transform sets out recommendations for unlocking the economic potential of leisure cycling, including promoting leisure cycling to a wider range of groups and supporting marketing of routes particularly in rural areas of Scotland.
Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:
"Our report demonstrates the value of cycle tourism to the Scottish economy. From family day-trips to one-day cycle events to long-distance tours, it's clear that leisure cycling makes a significant economic contribution. While Scotland has built up a reputation for mountain biking, much more could be done to brand Scotland as a 'must-visit' destination for cycle tourists and leisure trips.
"There is substantial room for growth in touring and leisure cycling and with appropriate promotion could make an even greater contribution to Scotland's economy. Our report sets out a strategic direction for both public sector bodies and the private sector in taking forward the expansion of the sector so that it can play its full role in Scotland's tourism strategy."
Scottish Government Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:
"Transform Scotland's report highlights how important cycling is to our tourism economy. Our natural environment is the number one reason why people visit Scotland and the Scottish Government is committed to making it as accessible as possible, which is why we are investing £3 million over this year and next in the Oban to Inverness cycle route.
"A successful, buoyant visitor economy -- employing local people, using local suppliers and supporting local economies -- contributes to a more successful Scotland.
"Outdoor pursuits, such as cycling, play an important part in this and this year as we celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland there is no better time to appreciate the beautiful landscape on our doorstep."
Dr Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said:
"Cycling is a great way for visitors to see all that our beautiful country has to offer. Cycle tourism development will benefit the Scottish economy by bringing more visitors to destinations across Scotland and encouraging engagement with local businesses along the cycle routes, for example accommodation providers, event organisers, cycle tour operators and food & refreshment facilities.
"As we prepare to welcome the world in 2014 with the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming, there has never been a better time to grasp every single opportunity we can to encourage visitors to explore the beautiful rural and urban landscapes of Scotland, and by bicycle is the perfect way to do just that."
John Lauder, Director of Sustrans Scotland said:
"Scotland can become a top cycling country with leisure and touring cycling a must-do activity for residents and visitors alike. It has the potential to generate substantial economic benefits, particularly in rural areas, for a very small expenditure by councils, government and agencies.
"We are sitting on an untapped potential that, with minimal investment, we could quickly realise. As business opportunities go, this is a no-brainer. However, more needs to be done to promote leisure and touring cycling to a broader range of people, making it more attractive to beginners, women and young people. To realise this great potential there needs to be greater development and marketing of themed cycle routes, including greater visibility for the National Cycle Network and the EuroVelo routes when Scotland markets and promotes itself."
The main report (52pp) is available at <http://www.transformscotland.org.uk/GetFile.aspx?ItemId=673>.
The executive summary version (8pp) is available at <http://www.transformscotland.org.uk/GetFile.aspx?ItemId=674>.
Colin Howden (Director, Transform Scotland) on 0131 243 2690 or 07956 394121.
John Lauder (Director, Sustrans Scotland) on 0131 346 1384.
Notes to Editors:
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation has three key roles:
- To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
- To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
- To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
- VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- 2014 is the year Scotland welcomes the world, when it hosts the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and more than 800 Homecoming events throughout the country.For more information on Homecoming Scotland 2014, go to www.visitscotland.com
- The VisitScotland Information Centre network is a unique face-to-face channel engaging with around five million visitors and locals each year. Everyone who uses a VisitScotland Information Centre goes on to spend an additional £5.35, generating over £24 million for Scotland’s economy.
- According to a recent Deloitte study, tourism employs 270,000 people in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the industry contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
- For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
- For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
- For more information on VisitScotland’s annual review please go to www.visitscotland.org/about_us/our_focus/annual_report.aspx