Embracing Well-being Tourism: Scotland's Rural Businesses Harness New Staycation Trends 2021
As the allure of international travel wanes, Brits are setting their sights on exploring the beauty within their borders. With a renewed appreciation for their homeland, a surge in staycations has paved the way for rural businesses to tap into the flourishing trend of well-being tourism. This summer, from invigorating ice baths to serene forest yoga sessions and rejuvenating 'walk and talk' breaks, promises a holistic escape into the great outdoors, leaving digital devices behind.
Calum Johnston, an expert advising rural businesses on diversification at SAC Consulting, part of Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), reveals that the time is ripe for rural tourism and farming enterprises to embrace this evolving trend. "Consumers are seeking more than just a countryside visit," he notes. "The pandemic has sparked an awareness of personal health, nutrition, relaxation, and the need to disconnect from digital devices. This trend extends to holiday choices."
Johnston emphasises that capitalising on this shift doesn't necessarily demand lavish investments or dramatic changes. Instead, success lies in imaginative marketing and creatively utilising existing assets to curate compelling experiences for visitors. The fertile ground of Scotland's rural landscape provides an ideal canvas for this venture.
East Lothian's visionary entrepreneur, Cassie Bouverie, founder of the online booking platform Private House Stays, is a case in point. Recognising the nation's collective yearning for restoration post-pandemic, she has recalibrated her business approach to prioritise visitors' well-being. Private House Stays offers diverse accommodations, from hotels and B&Bs to glamping sites and self-catering houses across Scotland. Bouverie's strategy involves partnering with pilates and yoga studios, masseurs, reiki practitioners, and mental health experts to amplify the wellness quotient of her offerings.
Bouverie aptly underscores the sentiment, stating, "The aftermath of the pandemic has left our nation craving nurturing experiences." She envisions seamless collaborations with local facilities offering yoga, counselling, and other wellness services, enriching guests' getaways and ensuring they reap the most from their stay.
The emergence of well-being tourism has been hailed as a prime opportunity for rural diversification. Mr Johnston believes Scotland's rural businesses are well-positioned to tap into this burgeoning market. His insights reveal a landscape of innovation where sensory gardens, forest bathing, organic skincare products, yoga on paddleboards, thermal pools, and wild swimming spark genuine interest.
Central to this trend are digital detox and meaningful social connections. Rural retreat seekers seek more than picturesque landscapes; they yearn for authentic local experiences fortified by good food and drink with nutritional benefits. Scotland's lush countryside, blessed with breathtaking scenery, secluded hideaways, and homegrown produce, offers a haven for these natural pursuits.
In response to the escalating concerns about mental health, exacerbated by the pandemic, eco-therapy has emerged as another transformative facet of well-being tourism. Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, asserts that Covid-19 poses unprecedented mental health threats since the Second World War. Forbes' top wellness trends for 2021 underscore the prominence of eco and 'walk and talk' therapy, acknowledging the therapeutic power of nature.
Adding a premium price tag may only sometimes be feasible, but the value rural businesses can provide to their visitors differentiates between securing a booking or losing it to a competitor. Beyond mere recreational offerings, eco-therapy offers tailored sessions within natural settings, harnessing the elements of farms, gardens, and woodlands to restore mental, emotional, and physical balance.
As summer unfolds, Scotland's rural landscapes stand ready to embrace those seeking solace, rejuvenation, and connection with nature. With innovative ventures like Private House Stays leading the way, rural businesses are stepping into a new era of tourism, promising experiences that nurture the soul and renew the spirit.
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