Cycling Holidays in the Scottish Borders

The growing interest in sustainable tourism, health and the environment makes cycling an increasingly popular holiday choice.

The Borders’ world-class mountain biking reputation already attracts ‘hardcore cyclists’, but tourism businesses could work together to bring in more ‘leisure cyclists’ who want to relax and enjoy the local culture. This type of visitor won’t spend all their time cycling, and will be looking for a range of activities and attractions during their trip – that makes them extremely valuable to local businesses.

European cycle tourism is estimated to be worth £14 billion by 2020. If businesses can collaborate effectively, the Scottish Borders has all the potential to become a major cycling holiday destination.

The big picture

94% of tourism businesses in the Borders think cycling is currently vital or important to tourism in the Scottish Borders (source - Recreational Cycling Group, E-Survey of Borders Businesses, Jan 2010).

Cycling tourism in Scotland is worth £20 million in visitor spend over 100,000 trips when cycling is the main purpose of the trip. However, where cycling is just part of a holiday, it’s worth £199 million and 900,000 trips (source - UKTS). It’s important that businesses target these ‘part-time’ cyclists and attract them with lots of other activities as part of their trip.

National Cycling Network covers over 1,500 miles and serves 10 per cent of cycling related trips in the UK. 

Knowing the market

An equal number of men and women enjoy cycling holidays. Professionals are a key target market, and people like to cycle either with partners, friends or family. 

Cyclists rate bike washing facilities and repair services as most important on a cycling holiday, so businesses should provide visitors with information on these services.

Also, access to maps, weather forecasts and luggage transfer services will delight your cycling visitors.

All that cycling generates appetites! Cyclists are interested in cafes and pubs where they can stop off for lunch and sample local food.

Cycling visitors want to know more about what the Borders has to offer.  Information about local events such as Common Ridings or Traquair Fair will enhance their holiday package.

Opportunities for local businesses

Businesses can make sure they are as bike-friendly as possible by providing things like a secure place to lock a bike, clothes drying facilities and flexible mealtimes.

Access the Borders Bike Kit – it’s a practical, online resource to help tourism businesses attract cycling visitors. It’s got top tips, cycling maps and itineraries, and ideas on collaborating with others. 

Make sure your business is linked to VisitScotland’s website - a cheap and easy way to advertise.

Create visitor packages around key cycling events. When the Borders hosted stage three of the Tour of Britain in 2009, it attracted £1.3m worth of printed media coverage for the Scottish Borders. 15,000 spectators watched the stage and 389,000 people watched coverage on ITV4.

Contact Scottish Borders’ Cycling Development Manager, Neen Kelly to discuss how your business can benefit from cycling tourism, and to receive the Recreational Cycling Group’s quarterly e-newsletters. 

If you remember one thing

Most visitors coming for a cycling holiday will also be looking for other things to do in the area. Think about how you can collaborate with other tourism businesses and visitor attractions to create stand-out packages.

Sources – ‘Promoting Networks for Sustainable Growth’ prepared for Scottish Borders Enterprise Report by Dunira Strategy and Ray Hopper Associates, March 2008 and Scottish Borders Recreational Cycling Group