Sailing tourism

Sailing tourism in Scotland

The sailing industry here is so strong that the recent recession is having little impact on the market and all indications point towards further growth.

Visitors the world over have been captivated by the exhilarating and wonderfully scenic sailing waters of Scotland. The industry here is so strong that the recent recession is having little impact on the market and all indications point towards further growth.

However, competition from other areas of the UK and abroad is increasing. New marinas are being developed in Europe and beyond as other countries begin to capitalise on the strength of sailing tourism. Scotland has expanded its facilities over the last few years, but new and existing visitors have quickly filled these spaces and berths are largely running to capacity.

To maintain and expand its current strong position, Scotland’s marinas need to further develop facilities and provide more moorings. In turn, tourism businesses need to tell their customers about this world class sailing destination.

The big picture

Boat ownership in the UK and overseas is growing. 

To support growth in Scotland we will need more resident and visitor berths across the country.

Tourism businesses can help encourage more boat owners from outside Scotland to both visit and also base their boats here in the long term, therefore they will be increasingly likely to use more local services.

Knowing the market

The Clyde has the biggest demand for resident boats at marinas such as Troon, Ardrossan and Largs; visiting boats most often sail around the popular West Coast.

The main appeal of sailing in Scotland is the scenery, excellent sailing waters and lack of crowds. Tourism businesses should attract sailing visitors with these hooks, e.g. ‘peaceful getaways’ or ‘unspoiled waters’.

Don’t forget that sailing visitors don’t just spend on sailing – they also spend on food and drink, accommodation, entertainment and retail.  Businesses should collaborate to offer joined up experiences that will encourage sailing visitors to spend more.

Scottish visitors are also important – they spend the same amount as visitors from elsewhere.

The usual number of boat passengers is three, but many people use their boats to host groups of friends. ‘All male’ weekend parties or family groups are popular so think about what you could promote that would particularly appeal to these groups.

Opportunities for businesses

A significant number of visitors want more on-shore facilities, so tourism businesses could promote what they offer, their proximity, and perhaps even offer shuttle services to make it easy for visitors. 

Many visitors want weather forecasting – businesses could provide this for visitors as a nice extra.

Those coming for sailing training courses could be enticed by weekend package deals and may bring other new visitors along.

Businesses across Scotland could link up to create trip itineraries that will work for travelling sailors. Remember they may also have passengers who will be looking for a range of alternative activities and services.

If you remember one thing

Whether a sailing visitor is a Scottish boat owner on an overnight visit or an overseas visitor on a cruise, they could be attracted by package day trips and other activities while on their stay.

  • Source - ‘Sailing Tourism in Scotland’ by Tourism Resources Company for Scottish Enterprise, February 2010