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Scotland is Europe's top wildlife watching destination - find out how to make the most of it

Wildlife tourism in Scotland

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In 2010, Scottish Natural Heritage said the value to the Scottish economy of nature-based tourism was ??1.4 billion a year. How can Scotland make the most of this potential?


You may not have considered targeting wildlife visitors - or visitors who could enjoy wildlife - before, but actually there are some simple things you could be doing to attract this ready-made market. This guide will give you practical advice to help you use our fantastic wildlife to attract more visitors, encourage them to come back and effectively grow your business.

Scotland has an abundant range of rich and unique wildlife and habitats - from ospreys to otters, and forests to farmland. We also have some of the most fantastic, world-class settings in which to enjoy wildlife. Are we making the most of these natural assets on our doorstep?


58 per cent of visitors to Scotland cite our scenery and landscapes as their top reason for visiting Scotland


Almost nine out of ten wildlife operators commented that demand for wildlife experiences is growing

Despite the difficult economic conditions, they predict that this trend will continue. According to industry sources there are a number of factors that are encouraging the popularity of wildlife tourism.


Bottlenose dolphin watching in the Moray Firth generates at least ??4 million for the local economy each year

Research for the Moray Firth Partnership found that dolphin watching was a 'significant reason' for 52,200 overnight visitors a year to the east coast, and that over 17,000 of these visitors considered dolphin-watching to be the 'main reason' for visiting.


According to VisitScotland, wildlife watching is one of the top ten activities for visitors to Scotland

More than half of domestic (UK) visitors to Scotland engaging in some wildlife watching during their visit, and they tend to cite this as a key attraction.

In 2010, the Scottish Government published an extensive report about the importance of wildlife tourism to Scotland, The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland. The report analyses the market and includes ideas and insights on how to develop this sector of tourism. 

The full document is available from the Scottish Government

This guide uses insights from the report combined with a broad range of intelligence from our partners: Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Wild Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland. 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, so nature tourism is the focus of a national marketing campaign.

This gives Scottish tourism businesses a unique and compelling opportunity to develop new ideas, packages and collaborative ventures based around the wonderful abundant wildlife that we have in Scotland.

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