Healthy business opportunity for farms

Rural businesses are ideally placed to meet the demand for health and wellbeing breaks.


Health and wellness tourism in the outdoors is on the rise, and Scotland’s land-based businesses are ideally placed to capitalise on it.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there is a strong demand for staycations this year, alongside emerging health and wellness trends such as ice baths, forest yoga and ‘walk and talk’ breaks.

Wellbeing tourism has been identified as one of the top new farm diversification trends by the Farm Business Innovation Show and Calum Johnston, of SAC Consulting - part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), says rural businesses can be part of this growth market by offering varied and exciting escapes in the countryside.

Calum, who advises rural businesses on subjects such as diversification and tourism, said: “The pandemic has fuelled recognition of the importance of personal health, nutrition, relaxation and finding new ways to switch off from digital devices, and this is extending to holiday decisions.

“It doesn’t need to be high end. Nature, space and simple pleasures that Scotland’s farmers and landowners may take for granted will be a winning formula after the last year.

“It could be feeding lambs, easy access to cycling routes or a loch to paddleboard on, and while it may or may not be something you can charge a premium for, what you can offer visitors could be the difference between booking your rural retreat and another.”

Eco-therapy is another growing market due to the acute rise in mental health concerns.

This involves a trained practitioner who tailors structured sessions in the natural environment, integrating activities in a farm, garden, or woodland setting to improve mental, emotional and physical balance.

Scottish Enterprise Rural Leader and SRUC graduate Annabelle Scott, who recently opened the Borders-based Rural Remedy, said: “There is a growing mental health crisis and we wanted to create a space where visitors could combine a break away with the family with the chance to offload and reset.

“Walking is known to have a profound impact on mental and physical well-being, and people talk differently when they are walking. Staying at Rural Remedy can be just a place to relax and unwind as a family, or if any or all of the family want to, they can access the services of a fully trained and qualified BACP-registered Counsellor to walk alongside them, in the beautiful countryside, or meet together at the Hunters’ or Gatherers’ cottage.”

SAC Consulting works with colleagues from across SRUC to turn research into advice and good practice for business and the public sector.

For more information visit our SAC Consulting pages

Posted by SRUC on 23/03/2021

Tags: SAC Consulting, Rural Business
Categories: Consulting and Commercial | Natural Economy