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Wildlife Tourism Defies the Credit Crunch

Wildlife tourism experts are meeting today for Wild Scotland’s Annual Conferencenear Perth.  The conference will examine why wildlife tourism is bucking the trend of recession and how it can continue to play an important role in Scottish tourism.

Attended by some of the UK’s leading experts in wildlife tourism including Scottish Natural Heritage, VisitScotland and the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, the conference follows the publication of Wild Scotland’s annual survey into the sector.

Wild Scotland, the national wildlife tourism operators association, revealed last month that its members contribute £9.3million to the Scottish economy.  This figure excludes secondary spending on accommodation, transport and food.

Caroline Warburton of Wild Scotland explains:  “Wildlife tourism is an important part of the economy, particularly the rural economy.  By providing wildlife watching activities, our members draw visitors into rural areas, encouraging them to stop and spend time there, rather than just driving through.  Our survey has shown the strength and resilience of the sector and it is critical that we recognise this and build on it for the future.”

Representing a quarter of wildlife tourism businesses in the country, Wild Scotland’s members survey reported that 86% had had as good as, or better a year, than 2007.

At the time of the association’s survey, the group’s 70 members had an average annual turnover of more than £223,000, indicating that wildlife tourism in Scotland means business.  More than a third of businesses contributing to the survey said their turnover had increased on the previous year and 51% said they planned to take on more staff next year.

The conference programme will include sessions with:

•    Wildlife cameraman and presenter, Gordon Buchanan inspiring everyone with why he thinks Scotland is such a special wild place.

•    Prof Harold Goodwin, Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University bringing an international perspective to discussions.

•    Andrew Thin, Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage speaking about SNH’s changing role in supporting and developing wildlife tourism in Scotland.

•    Gwen Raez, Group Product Manager from VisitScotland presenting their position on wildlife tourism, shaped by their marketing activity and market research.

•    Caroline Warburton, Manager of Wild Scotland presenting the wildlife tourism industry perspective.

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