Scotland’s rural tourism sector is set to get a boost following the launch of the ‘Go Rural!’ initiative.

Backed by VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, NFU Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates, it will start as a pilot project attracting Edinburgh residents and city visitors to take day trips and short breaks to rural tourism businesses within 90 minutes of the city.

The concept will then be replicated from Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Inverness over the next 12-18 months.

About 50 rural tourism businesses are already signed up to the initiative.

Members, who will pay an annual membership fee to be listed on the website and be involved in the other marketing campaigns, will also be offered business development support and training in areas such as social media, digital marketing, cross-selling and collaboration.

“Agritourism is a term already well developed in other parts of the world and it is hugely encouraging to see this initiative being led and developed from the grass roots by rural businesses,” says Riddell Graham, director of partnerships at VisitScotland.

Nigel Miller, president of NFU Scotland, says: “Over the last few years, fantastic diversified farm and rural businesses have opened up to visitors. There is a genuine focus on providing a great experience and developing unique local features and skills. Go Rural is the next stage – adding value by building a collaborative network of attractions and providing an instant information pathway for visitors.

“Scotland’s rural tourism is also very much about the people who run the farmhouse B&Bs, or those who make their own cheeses on their family farm or the farmer’s daughter who runs riding safaris through the Scottish Highlands. Go Rural! will focus strongly on these people and the quality and care that they offer their visitors as part of their countryside experience.”

Research suggests that city visitors would spend an average of £50/head for a day out with Go Rural! members, or £100/head on a short break.

Rural tourism owners within 90 minutes of Edinburgh can sign up over the next six weeks at a discounted rate of £125/annum for the first 200 members; from July, the rate will be £200/annum.

Contact martyn@goruralscotland.com or visit the NFU Scotland stand at the Highland Show from 11am-3pm on Friday 22 June.