When people think of the economy, they wouldn’t necessarily consider field sports, but this industry is absolutely vital to the economy of rural Scotland. Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary for Scotland, recently stated that the value of field sports and the tourism that comes from them is worth about £155 million. These sports include fishing, stalking, and shooting, and many believe their contribution to the country’s overall economy will only increase over the next four years to reach upwards of £185 million by the year 2020.
Tourism, shooting and the rural economy
Ewing spoke at the Highland Field Sports Fair prior to the opening of the grouse shooting season on The Glorious Twelfth, and he discussed how tourism plays a vital role in Scotland’s rural economy. Local and international visitors come to the country year-round because of the many different sporting opportunities available in Scotland. Tourists from Europe, in particular, have increased in recent years.
Ewing stated “Our tourism sector is a vital strand of the rural economy and country sports represent a significant proportion of this. Field sports are a huge draw, with both domestic and foreign audiences enjoying the wealth of world-class opportunities available in Scotland.”
Unique fieldsports in a exclusive setting
The chair of the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group, Sarah Troughton, added that Scotland’s country sports are so popular around the world because they are world class. They include some very unique sports that, when combined with the country’s hospitality, heritage, history and beautiful scenery, create something that truly can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
The impact of rural sports on the country’s economy can be illustrated by figures recently taken from grouse shooting. Thirty-three estates in this sport were polled about their 2015 personnel expenditures, and when added up, the total was almost £7 million, including both full-time and seasonal workers.
Year-round financial gain
Angus Glens Moorland Group Head Gamekeeper Bruce Cooper was one of many gamekeepers who attended the annual gathering at Edzell in Angus to commemorate the start of another grouse shooting season. Cooper noted that while many who participate in the sport see it as a seasonal activity, grouse shooting employs people year-round. It’s not simply a hobby for some—it’s a way of life that puts food on their table in addition to bringing in a large amount of money to the Scottish economy.
The wage information collected by the survey only accounts for moorland groups operating in the regions of Angus, Loch Ness, Grampian, Tayside and Central Scotland, Speyside, Tomatin, and the Lammermuirs. The total spent on wages in the grouse shooting industry in the country would be much higher.
Needless to say, all these figures once again confirm the importance of field sports to the local rural economy and national parks, as well as the interconnected nature of the countryside, employment, tourism and finance.