The rise of the Scottish staycation

January 20th 2021

James Cuthbertson, Farm and Estate Account Executive at our Edinburgh office, looks at the growing trend of staycations and outlines the risks farmers need to be aware of when diversifying

Faced with a rising tide of coronavirus cases, Scotland had to adapt to an entirely different way of living and working.

The farming and rural community was already burdened with challenges when the pandemic hit, from post-Brexit uncertainty to volatile weather patterns. Though 2020 has been a year of strife and adversity, it can also be associated with resilience and innovation.

As overseas trips came to an abrupt end, rural tourism flourished, with businesses marketing their premises as a means of safe escape.

Many farms that provide holiday lets, camping, bed and breakfast and farm stays, as a way to support their core agricultural businesses, experienced an upsurge in demand and revenue during the summer – a welcome relief following months of rigorous restrictions.

As restrictions tightened again, these businesses were once again forced into a state of limbo – but this does not spell the end of the Scottish staycation.

The uncertainty of a post-Covid world, combined with a renewed appreciation of domestic travel, has sparked new commercial opportunities, with farm tourism diversification looking set for further growth.

Such opportunities may include the conversion of existing farm buildings into holiday lets or non-productive land being put to revenue-generating use with the introduction of tent pitches, shepherd huts or yurts.

Whilst rural tourism offers a new beacon of hope to farmers, with any new venture comes critical gaps in knowledge. Shrewd business planning and judicious risk management is imperative, along with expert advice and comprehensive insurance arrangements.

Tourism-related projects will invariably involve members of the public setting foot on farmland, making health and safety assessments and measures essential from the outset.  Important considerations include adequate signage, hygiene facilities and emergency procedures.

From an insurance perspective, farmers need to consider public liability and employers’ liability cover.  In some cases, insurers may request site inspections to ensure that quality standards and requirements are being met.

Farmers should also carefully consider the trend for hot-tubs.  Though hot-tubs can command a premium and increase bookings, farmers need to be mindful of the time-consuming task of maintaining high hygiene standards.  Not doing so can leave farmers exposed to public liability claims.

By planning effectively and managing the potential risks, farmers can ensure they have a solid foundation on which a successful and thriving business can be built, without the threat of oversights causing business-critical problems.

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