DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023

 
DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023
DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023
Executive Summary
Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) is a department within Scottish Cycling which is
responsible for overseeing the national strategy for mountain biking in Scotland since 2010.

In 2012, DMBinS engaged a range of partners across the Highlands, including Highlands & Islands
Enterprise, Highland Council, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Forestry Commission
Scotland, Scottish Cycling, the key destinations DMO’s, mountain bike businesses and community
groups to form the DMBinS Highland Cluster (cluster). The cluster has aims to strategically grow
mountain biking tourism and product development – leading to economic growth, support athlete
development and the sporting pathway to help Scots achieve on the world stage and growing
participation to improve the health of locals in the Highlands. The cluster has achieved many
successes including an innovative interactive guide to mountain biking in the Highlands, research
into the economic impact and recommendations for improvements to the offer, the spread of good
practice, improved communications, and provided regional support for the hosting of two very
successful international mountain bike conferences in the Highlands. All of these successes have
been achieved with minimal resources, with small project based support from partners within the
Highlands region and with considerable direct input from DMBinS core staffing.

The Highlands features several of Scotland’s key destinations for mountain biking. Indeed, the new
national strategy for mountain biking from 2019-2025 identifies Fort William & Lochaber as one of
only two ‘Premier Destinations’ and Cairngorms and North of Scotland as two of the six ‘Priority
Destinations’ in Scotland.

The national strategy and the regional partners of the cluster have recognised a demand to
sustainably grow the economic impact of mountain biking through improvements in mountain bike
facilities, improved integration into destination management organisations, tourism supply
business development, promotion of the support for innovation and increased and improved
marketing and promotion. This will help ensure the region, and Scotland, provide attractive
itineraries for growing mountain bike markets, delivers a world class level of service to visitors,
encourages innovation within businesses, maximises the impact of hosting international level events
including the UCI Cycling World Championships in 2023, and ensure the mountain bike community is
better integrated and more well-equipped to improve the sustainability of mountain bike trails.

The Impact

Increasing mountain biking tourism and innovative product development within the Highlands will
significantly support the economic growth of Scotland. A recent study by respected independent
consultants, Frontline, estimates that based on current trends, the Scottish mountain bike sector’s
combined sales were worth up to £105 million Gross Value Add (GVA) in 2015, and could potentially
be worth £158m GVA by 2025, equivalent to an increase of 51%. In 2015, mountain bike tourism
across Scotland was the most significant growth sector with an annual contribution of £54 million
GVA with the potential to rise to £70m by 2025. Product innovation has also been identified as a key
are for supported growth with the value of the sector, in 2015, worth £23.6m GVA and has the
potential to grow to £35.9m GVA by 2025.

Internal research from DMBinS, which fed into the Frontline report, estimated that mountain biking
tourism across the Highlands was the second highest in Scotland with an annual contribution of
£13.9m GVA. With the additional support through this project and the successful implementation of
a co-ordinated strategy the tourism sector within Highlands has the opportunity to grow to £20m
GVA by 2025, achieving 44% growth. This growth will only be realised through a co-ordinated and
systematic support for the sector to grow.
DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023
Project Overview

The DMBinS Highland Cluster have identified a need for a comprehensive 3 year development
proposal which would invest in the following elements:

1.       Bike plans of key mountain biking destinations

Mountain biking destination masterplanning would create a strong evidence base arguing the case for
strategic, planned and impactful development in Fort William & Lochaber, Cairngorms, Sutherland, Torridon,
and Skye. The masterplanning will engage local businesses, key stakeholders and the mountain bike
community to make recommendations for the development of mountain bike tourism infrastructure which is
sustainable, in keeping with local demands and environmental sensitivities. An expert consultant would be
recruited to deliver this element of the project. The contract and outputs would be managed by the regional
development co-ordinator.

2.       Trails associations in all key destinations;

The mountain bike regional development Co-ordinator would facilitate community consultations to support
the creation of trails associations, providing the necessary tools, personal protective equipment, ensuring the
necessary insurances and agreements are in place, and conducting volunteer training including trail inspection
and volunteer co-ordination courses.

3.       Improve the mountain biking and cycling supply chain tourism product;

Working together with the DMO’s we will engage the local business community in the trail network, marketing
of the product and advise the supply chain businesses on how they can develop a world class product. We will
be particularly targeting accommodation providers to improve their offer to visiting cyclists and mountain
bikers with a secure bike storage scheme which will incentivise 24 businesses to improve their offer and
provide inspiration to many more.

4.       Develop content towards a co-ordinated marketing and promotion of the existing offer;

The research identified a significant gap in the integrated marketing and promotion of mountain biking across
the Highlands. This project will help develop content to feature in a proposed VisitScotland Growth Fund
application planned for 2020/2021 to promote MTB across the Highlands.

5.     Innovation support for businesses linking them with academia and wider business support – with
Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland;

The project would provide 1:1 confidential advice and support to businesses across sectors, to enable
businesses in the region to access innovation support available, including business advice from their local
business gateway, and opportunities to collaborate with local higher education institutions.

6.       Provide match funding towards a regional (Highlands) development co-ordinator.

The project would run across the key destinations in the Highlands. The core funding from HIE would then be
matched with funding from each of the destinations to help support an element of the regional co-ordinators
time and expertise to each destination. The Highlands benefits from the scale of running the project across the
whole area.
DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023
Contents
4. Introduction
5. Strategic Focus on Mountain Biking
6. Fit with Scottish Government Objectives
7. Highlands & Islands Priorities & Objectives
8-12. DMBinS Highland Cluster Development Proposal
13-16. Strategic Phased Approach and Activity Forecasting
17. Proposed Allocation of Jobs for Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator
18-20. Regions of Interest
DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023
Introduction to Mountain Biking in the Highlands and Current Situation
The Highlands has secured a place in the hearts and minds of mountain bikers across the globe. in
recent years, with the continued success of the UCI Downhill World Cup at Fort William, a staple in
the World Cup calendar since 2002. The event sees an increase in visitors year on year, with 17,286
in attendance in 2018, and just 34% of them from the local area. The inward investment this event
brings to the local economy is unrivalled by any other event in the region’s event calendar, bringing
a £3.7 million direct economic impact to the Highlands in 2018. The event will return for its 18th and
19th years in 2019 and 2020 and is expected to continue to grow both in terms of spectator numbers
and dwell time of visitors. The onus is on the region’s mountain bike community and Scotland’s
economic development agencies to ensure the region is prepared to provide an outstanding visitor
experience, and to ensure a legacy of mountain biking in the region for the future.

        Mountain Biking in the Highlands is not all about the UCI Downhill World Cup at Fort
William, however. While Fort William and Lochaber are undoubtedly the most well-known
worldwide, the Highlands also offers world class trail centre riding, with Laggan Wolftrax often cited
as one of Scotland’s best trail centres, and the ultimate adventure and enduro experience at wild
locations such as Torridon and Kinlochleven.

         The Scottish Mountain Bike Conference, hosted every 2 years by Developing Mountain
Biking in Scotland (DMBinS), has grown considerably since its inception in 2010. The most recent
edition held in November 2018 – ‘Future Proofing the Trail Ahead’ welcomed 285 delegates to
Aviemore from 15 different countries. The conference highlighted the interest from the international
community in Scottish Mountain Biking, with many delegates seeing the development of mountain
biking here as an example of best practice to be learnt from. Kevin Mayne, Development Director of
the European Cycling Federation and Founder of Cycling Industries’ Europe said “Coming in from a
European base, I am really impressed by the coordination. I’m impressed by the energy and really
importantly, this cross agency working”.

         “I think MTB in Scotland is in a really healthy place, it has obviously grown massively over
recent years and I think events like this [Scottish Mountain Bike Conference, 2018] are fantastic at
pulling everyone from across the sport and recreation together to focus on how we keep that growth
and momentum growing” – Julie Harrington, British Cycling CEO

The University of the Highlands and Islands research commissioned by DMBinS in 2012 highlighted
the need for a joined-up coordinated strategy for the sustainable development of mountain biking in
the Highlands. It identified a list of barriers to access for participants, including both informational
and facilities barriers from a visitor perspective, and infrastructure barriers for local people. If the
Highlands is to maximise its potential as a world class mountain biking destination, and ensure the
region can benefit economically from this, these barriers to access must be overcome. We set out
herein a proposal for the sustainable development of mountain biking in the Highlands.
DMBinS Highland Cluster Outline Proposal 2020-2023
Strategic case for focus on mountain biking in the Highlands
A recent study commissioned by DMBinS and Scottish Enterprise, and conducted by respected
independent consultants Frontline, estimated that mountain biking tourism across Scotland could be
worth £70 million GVA by 2025, only if Scotland’s economic development agencies continue to
provide the same level of support they do at present. With additional support provided through the
proposed project, and the successful implementation of a co-ordinated strategy, growth of the
mountain bike tourism sector within the Highlands will be at a comparable rate to that seen across
Scotland. Without the proposed support there is the potential for other destinations to achieve a
greater level of growth than the Highlands.

Adventure Tourism, which mountain biking is an important part, rose in value by 195% to $263
billion globally from 2010 to 2013.1 The national tourism strategy for Scotland ‘Tourism Scotland
2020’ identifies Adventure Tourism as a market with significant growth potential. Currently valued at
$445 billion to the world economy, adventure tourism is predicted to grow in value to $1335 billion
by 2023.2 The Highlands features several of Scottish mountain biking’s key destinations that offer a
world class mountain biking experience to beginners and enthusiasts that is unrivalled by any other
UK destination due to the grandeur and scale of the mountains, wildness of the landscapes and
terrain, and the resulting adventurous experience that these features provide. Thus, the region has
the opportunity to capitalise on these assets and take a share of the rapid increase in global
adventure tourism.

Strategic planning of the mountain bike offer in strategic destinations within the Highlands linked
with destination and community development has the potential to sustainably grow the area’s
economic contribution to the Scottish mountain bike tourism sector.

There is a recognised demand for an improvement in mountain bike facilities in the Highlands, as
set out by research from the University of the Highlands and Islands. Helping to develop a co-
ordinated approach to infrastructure improvements, destination management and marketing and
promotion will ensure the region, and Scotland, maximises the impact of hosting international level
events, provide attractive itineraries for growth mountain bike markets (family, enduro, adventure,
e-bikes and gravel) and ensure the mountain bike community is more invested in improving the
sustainability of mountain bike trails.

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Scotland 2018-2019 reaffirms mountain biking as one of
the main priorities for investing in tourism in Scotland. “We will also continue to explore the
potential of the key elements of the sector, including golf, mountain biking and marine tourism”.

1
 Adventure Trade Travel Association (ATTA) Market Study 2013
2
 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-adventure-tourism-market-expected-to-reach-1335738-
million-by-2023-allied-market-research-672335923.html
Fit with Scottish Government Policies and Objectives
The strategic business case will help the Scottish Government meet several of its national strategies
and priorities including:

    -   One Scotland – a Programme for Government 2018-19 (Scottish Government, 2018) –
        creating economic sustainability; valuing our natural capital; using our wealth of natural
        resources to tackle physical inactivity
    -   The Christie Commission on public sector reform – Working closely with individuals and
        communities to understand their needs, maximise talents and resources, and concentrating
        the efforts of all services on delivering integrated services that deliver results
    -   The Physical Activity Delivery Plan for Scotland – increasing participation in mountain biking
        can contribute across all Active Scotland outcomes, particularly Outcome 4 (improve our
        active infrastructure – people and places)
    -   National Performance Framework 3 (Scottish Government, 2014) – a National Walking &
        Cycling Network
    -   Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019 – 2029 – ensuring that more people benefit directly or
        indirectly from Scotland’s forests and woodlands, through improvements to health, well-
        being, quality of life and life chances, or economic returns.
    -   Long-term Vision for Active Travel in Scotland – 2030 (Transport Scotland, 2014) – increasing
        participation in mountain biking could encourage those new participants to cycle for leisure
        and travel resulting in a modal shift for functional journeys thus contributing to reduced CO2
        emissions
    -   Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (2017) – promoting cycling for young people for leisure,
        travel and fun
    -   The National Strategy: Tourism 2020 – Nature and Activities - mountain biking/cycling is the
        second most popular outdoor activity in Scotland
    -   Scotland’s Economic Strategy (March 2015) – creating a more successful country, with
        opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, by increasing sustainable economic growth
        through innovation, investment, internationalisation and inclusive growth
HIE priorities and ambitions
The proposed development project detailed herein aligns well with both Scottish Government policy
and the priorities and ambitions set out by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the economic
development agency for the region.
Increasing tourism in the Highlands through enhanced targeted promotion of the area’s offering,
thereby helping business to capitalise on the rich natural and cultural assets unique to the Scottish
Highlands will accelerate sustainable business growth. Facilitating the creation of community trail
associations around the maintenance of existing trail networks key to the region’s attractiveness as a
mountain bike destination will strengthen those communities and fragile areas. It will also increase
volunteering and educational opportunities for local people, providing a friendly sociable
atmosphere in which to undertake constructive work for the benefit of the community while
meeting new people and learning new skills. This will promote resilience and resourcefulness in
communities. Providing regions with an evidence base on how to develop their facilities in such a
way as to play to the region’s unique cultural and geographical strengths will help to develop growth
sectors, particularly distinctive regional opportunities. The Master Planning evidence base will
enhance future funding application success for region specific trail developments allowing
Destination Management Organisations to develop regional attractiveness and a distinctive place-
based economy. Master Planning will identify the digital and transport links that need to be in place
to allow the Highlands to access a growing market share of the adventure tourism industry through
mountain biking. In the long term, businesses will be better equipped to take full advantage of the
growing Adventure Tourism sector, allowing them to grow and employ more local people. This will
allow the region to support a growing population, attracting more economically active and young
people. A thriving year-round tourism economy in the Highlands will promote the region as a great
place to live, work and play, promoting a vibrant and distinctive culture. The innovation support
component will enable product and service based businesses to access the innovation support
available through Scotland’s economic development agencies, fostering an innovative, productive
and internationally competitive business base in the region.
DMBinS Highland Cluster Development Proposal
It is proposed that the funding be put towards achieving the following:
        1. Masterplans of key MTB destinations – enabling them to secure future trail
        funding;
        2. Establishing voluntary trails associations across the Highlands;
        3. Supporting Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) to develop mountain
        biking tourism product;
        4. Innovation support for businesses linking them with academia and wider business
        support – with Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland
        5. Promotional activity

Development and delivery phases of proposed development project
    1. Masterplanning of key mountain biking destinations

Mountain biking destination masterplanning would create a strong evidence base arguing the case
for strategic, planned and impactful development of key destinations within the Highlands region.
Broadly speaking, the masterplanning will engage local businesses, key stakeholders and the
mountain bike community to make recommendations for the development of mountain bike
tourism infrastructure which is sustainable, in keeping with local demands and environmental
sensitivities.

The generated evidence base will empower key stakeholders to improve their chances of
successfully applying for and securing further funding for the identified necessary improvements.
This process would be of great value for landowners, communities, businesses and DMOs, allowing
them to secure funding for predicted outcomes such as the development of a sustainable trail
network that would enhance the appeal of the region, upgrade existing facilities to provide a better
experience for visitors, improve infrastructure and facilities for high-profile events such as the UCI
Cycling World Championships in 2023 and the UCI Downhill World Cup at Fort William, and to
market and promote the region in a coordinated fashion, thereby sustainably developing the sport
and resulting tourism opportunities in their region. The masterplanning process will take into
account the needs of all markets within mountain biking, including family and youth, cross-country,
downhill, enduro, free-ride, gravel and, last but not least, e-mountain biking. The latter is of
particular interest due to its potential to make mountain biking more accessible to a much larger
demographic of the population, and also due to the potential increase in trail traffic and impact it
may result in. The masterplanning process will seek to find ways in which any potential negative
impacts arising from e-bikes can be mitigated, including the provision of advice on the construction
of e-bike friendly trail networks.

Destinations to be subjected to Master Planning include Fort William and Lochaber, Western
Cairngorms, Sutherland, Torridon, and the islands of Skye.

The Master Planning process will follow 6 steps for each destination:

    1) Survey of local and regional mountain bike facilities and infrastructure
    2) Analysis of the tourism offer in each destination
3) Development of a whole region Master Plan concept identifying developments necessary to
       serve key growth markets
    4) Stakeholder and wider community consultation on the Master Plan concept
    5) Spatial planning analysis
    6) Development of a detailed masterplan including trail networks for all levels of mountain
       bikers and spatial planning recommendations

It is proposed herein that a regional mountain bike development Co-ordinator be in post to
coordinate the activities of the masterplan consultants, bringing key stakeholders, the wider
community and consultants together for constructive consultation on the masterplan concept. It is
proposed that the regional mountain bike development Co-ordinator be in post for an initial 1-year
development phase to manage the activities of the consultant, followed by a further 2 years to
subsequently work with stakeholders to catalyse implementation of the masterplan
recommendations thereby sustaining momentum of the project and maximising the value of the
initial investment (see appraisal of options below).

    2. Establishing voluntary trails associations across the Highlands

It is predicted that a key outcome of the masterplanning process will be the recommendation for the
creation of community trails associations at strategic locations across the Highlands. This prediction
is based on findings made by the University of the Highlands Islands Centre for Recreation and
Tourism Research in their Highlands Cluster Study, 2012, and case studies of trails associations
around the world, and now forming across Scotland. The study made reference to issues around
land ownership, responsible access, and responsibility for trails, topics pertinent to the widespread
unauthorised trail building activity underway in the Highlands.

Trails are the lifeblood of the sport and their development is key to attracting visitors and ensuring
return visits to the area, and to enabling local rider and youth progression within the sport. While
these positives are recognised by stakeholders, unauthorised trail building poses difficulties for
landowners from a duty of care and liability perspective, but also from an environmental protection
perspective particularly in areas that are home to habitats of endangered species such as the
Capercaillie. Unauthorised Trail Guidance was recently launched by the National Access Forum
Scotland, in partnership with Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Forestry Commission
Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and Scottish Natural Heritage, at the Scottish Mountain Bike
Conference, 2018, a development welcomed by all stakeholders including landowners and riders
alike. The Guidance provides best practice on how landowners and riders can work together on
mountain bike trail development in a way which allows riders to access the countryside in a
responsible manner and mitigate risk to landowners.

The Tweed Valley Trails Association (TVTA) and the Aberdeenshire Trails Association (ATA) serve as
the best examples of how Trails Associations can facilitate an open, honest and productive dialogue
between mountain bike trail users and landowners on the issues and opportunities presented by
trails that were initially built without landowner permission. They are both community-led projects
dedicated to the stewardship and development of the mountain bike trail networks and advocate on
behalf of its users. They are independent voices for mountain bike trail users that promote a culture
of responsible stewardship of the trail network and generates funds to put back into the trails and
community. Both have Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) with Forest Enterprise Scotland and
the ATA with private land owners, to manage and maintain popular mountain bike trails that were
initially built without permission. Such agreements help pave the way for similar agreements across
the country.
It is proposed herein that, based on the data gathered by the Master Planning consultants,
community consultation and the identified necessary trail network developments, that the mountain
bike regional development Co-ordinator will determine a suitable number of official and unofficial
trail networks which could benefit from independent trails associations being formed to support
landowners and land managers to mitigate the risk posed by the existence of unauthorised trails.
This includes performing risk assessments, regular trail inspections and running trail maintenance
days to prevent trails from falling into disrepair and becoming dangerous to users. The creation of
such trails associations would help build cohesion between the mountain bike community and
landowners and managers, reduce unauthorised trail building, deliver effective long-term
management of the trail network and increase volunteering opportunities across the Highlands.

To deliver this workstream, the mountain bike regional development co-ordinator would facilitate
community consultations and, at identified suitable locations, support the creation of trails
associations, providing the necessary tools, personal protective equipment, ensuring the necessary
insurances and agreements are in place, and conducting volunteer training including trail inspection
courses. Their role could also be expanded to exploring the possibility of developing MOUs with
landowners and even Community Asset Transfers where appropriate.

    3. Supporting Destination Management Organisations

All destinations involved in the masterplan have an existing business base and therefore vested
interest in the mountain bike sector. It has, thus far, proven to be too big a challenge for many of our
key destinations to support the formation of mountain bike specific business clusters, such as
Outdoor Capital UK and the Cairngorms Business Partnership, with a view to engaging the business
community in the trail network, marketing of the product and engaging the supply chain. Of
particular, relevance here are accommodation providers who can do much to improve their offer to
visiting cyclists and mountain bikers for relatively little investment.

This strand of the proposed project of delivery would involve the mountain bike regional
development co-ordinator working with the Destination Management Organisations to form
mountain bike business clusters. Based on outcomes of the Master Planning process, the mountain
bike regional development Co-ordinator would look to engage with mountain bike business clusters
through running tailored workshops. These workshops may focus on topics such as developing
market-driven business plans or meeting the new standards for the relaunched VisitScotland Cyclists
Welcome Scheme (June 2018), and might include talks from voices of the international community
sharing best practice. This will allow service providers in the region to understand what business
plans and marketing tools have been implemented successfully at European mountain biking
destinations, empowering them to deliver the outstanding customer service that mountain biking
tourists have come to expect from world class destinations. This aspect of the programme would
look to educate business clusters on how they can effectively work together to produce attractive
itineraries and packages for visiting mountain bikers, enhancing the quality of the visitor experience,
increasing dwell time and ensuring return visits. This strand of the project will help businesses in the
region to capitalise on the rich natural and cultural assets unique to the Scottish Highlands through
facilitating accelerated but sustainable business growth.

Based on a successful pilot project ran in the Scottish Enterprise area of Scotland this project would
also provide a 50% intervention rate towards the match funding of secure bike storage for
accommodation providers. Secure bike storage is typically the least developed of the services
required for accommodation providers to offer a world class level of service to visiting mountain
bikers.
4. Innovation support for Highland Businesses

Through Scotland’s economic development agencies, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands
Enterprise, Interface and Business Gateway, there is much innovation support available to both
product and service-based businesses. Within this project there is scope for assisting businesses in
the Highlands by inspiring entrepreneurs with innovation clinics, workshops and providing a regional
level of support for businesses – helping them to navigate the business support eco-system and
ensure they are linked to opportunities to internationalise through joining up with Scottish
Development International (SDI).

The Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland (MTBCoS) was established in 2014 by Edinburgh Napier
University, Scottish Enterprise, DMBinS and the Scottish Funding Council, to perform this function
across the country. Despite this remit, it has proven difficult for the one Business Development
Executive (BDE) of MTBCoS to cover all regions of Scotland, in particular the Highlands due to its
proximity to MTBCoS’s base in the Borders. Since the creation of MTBCoS in 2014, some innovation
clinics have run in the Highlands, including at Aviemore, Inverness, Fort William and Laggan.
However, the region remains, by admission of the BDE, under served in this regard. The mountain
bike regional development Co-ordinator, trained by the BDE of MTBCoS, would provide 1:1
confidential advice and support to businesses across sectors, to enable businesses in the region to
access innovation support available, including business advice from their local business gateway, and
opportunities to collaborate with local higher education institutions, and those further afield, to
undertake product, process or service-based innovation.

          Locally, the University of the Highlands and Islands has an Economic Intelligence unit
providing consultancy services on several industries including new enterprise development, tourism,
creative industries, forestry and transport. It also has a strong research base in sustainable mountain
development which may be of relevance to private land owners with an interest in indirectly
benefiting commercially from mountain biking, and other tourism-based businesses looking to
develop products and packages in the area. Further afield, at the University of Strathclyde, the
manufacturing research and facilities on offer are world class. The Mountain Bike Development Co-
ordinator would be the first point of contact for businesses in the Highlands looking to tap into the
facilities and expertise available at our Scottish Universities.

         This strand of the project will work to ensure that businesses in the Highlands and Islands do
not miss out on the innovation and economic development opportunities available across Scotland
Such opportunities include the MTBCoS and SDI-delivered learning journeys to the EuroBike Trade
Conference, the chance to be a part of the emerging Scottish bike manufacturer cluster, and
opportunities for product design and testing that will be available through the new Innovation
Centre for Mountain Biking in the Borders. The Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will
connect local businesses with such opportunities and the relevant academic networks. In addition,
there is also scope for promotion of the region as the ultimate testing facility for new mountain bike
products, with a view to attracting inward investment through brands testing products, running
media trips and launching new bikes and componentry. This stream of work would be carried out in
conjunction with the BDE of MTBCoS leveraging their network and contacts.
5. Promotional activity

In 2012, as part of the Highlands Cluster Study, UHI were asked to assess the current provision of
mountain biking in the Highlands and identify keys gaps in provision in key growth areas. UHI
subsequently provided recommendations for the sustainable development of mountain biking in the
Highlands that would result in economic growth for the region. The research identified a significant
gap in integrated marketing and promotion of mountain biking across the Highlands. It was
concluded that a major issue around participation in the sport in this region, and a rate-limiter in
visits to the considerable mountain bike trail network in existence, was a promotional and
communication issue.

To help address this gap in provision DMBinS developed a ‘MTB Highland E-Guide” which was a
digital electronic guide to mountain biking across the Highlands. The guide has been successful with
over 25,000 downloads but there is now a need to take an innovative approach to helping visitors
explore the amazing mountain biking in the Highlands in the form of a GIS map of the area with
layers of relevant information for potential visitors, perhaps in the format of an app. Consultation
with key stakeholders would be required to ascertain what information could and could not be
shared via such a platform but it is suggested that the following information be considered:

                •   Locations and mapping of trails at official trail centres
                •   Locations and mapping of trails which were originally built without landowner
                    permission but now have sufficient management agreements in place
                •   Information on the length, technicality and elevation profile of all trails
                •   Sensitive areas to be avoided by mountain bikers and dog walkers
                •   Town centres and amenities
                •   Bike washing facilities
                •   Bicycle repair and hire shops
                •   Bike friendly accommodation providers
                •   Car parks
                •   Bathrooms including shower facilities and baby changing facilities
                •   Cafes and restaurants
                •   Locations of healthcare providers
                •   Locations of WIFI hotspots
                •   The wider infrastructure and cycle network connecting the above locations

It is expected that the Master Planning exercise will identify the need for such a marketing tool or
similar promotional activity, and at the very least the creation of a website promoting the mountain
biking facilities already on offer in the Highlands, and the go-to place for information for anyone
going mountain biking in the Highlands. An important role for the mountain bike development Co-
ordinator in this regard will be to work with the business clusters to investigate the feasibility of
preparing and submitting a multi-destination VisitScotland Growth Fund bid in 2020 to secure future
marketing budget for the Highlands region.

This is workstream is not eligible for match funding from HIE.
Strategic Phased Approach and Activity Forecasting
To achieve a longer term sustainability of the project, valuable impact to the region, and to
introduce flexibility into the funding strategy, the programme of development and delivery can be
phased over a 3-year period, with the initial 12-month period having a complete funding plan from
the outset, and the following 2-year delivery period having secured stafft resource but still requiring
destination level support for programme budget.

A mountain bike development co-ordinator will be recruited by the Head of DMBinS, supported by
the principal funders HIE. The initial priority of the co-ordinator when in post will be to support the
recruitment of the masterplanning consultancy then support, manage and coordinate activities in
the masterplanning process, including facilitating community and key stakeholder consultation.

The mountain bike development co-ordinator will deliver the programme set out herein, and in the
proposed Gantt chart, over the three year post. The phased approach will allow for stakeholder
consultation with the DMBinS team and mountain bike development co-ordinator periodically
throughout the project, bringing flexibility to evaluate project progress and to tailor the deliverables
according to evolving needs.

Here we set out an outline project plan, with a breakdown of activity and deliverables over the
course of the three year project. Please refer to the project Gant chart for a more in-depth view of
timescales and activity.

Activity Forecasting 2020

Assuming that funding is in place, the Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will assume their
post from February 2020, recruited by the DMBinS manager and funders. The post will have hot-
desking capabilities in Glenmore Lodge, Fort William/Lochaber and Sutherland for best access to the
main locations subject to masterplanning.

The initial priority for the Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will be to recruit the
masterplanning consultants. The Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will subsequently work
closely with the consultants to facilitate their work at each location, engaging with landowners and
land managers to secure access to locations, facilitate discussions between parties, and to develop
and manage these relationships in a sensitive manner allowing for constructive consultation on the
macro masterplanning concept. Similarly, the Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will
facilitate community consultation events at each location subject to master planning, bringing
together riders, members of the local community, local authority representatives, land owners, land
managers, and businesses to allow for constructive consultation on the masterplans developed for
each location. The Co-ordinator will monitor the work of the consultants to ensure it adheres to pre-
agreed quality standards, taking into consideration the unique needs and idiosyncrasies of each
location, and is covering all pre-agreed content.

Based on a successful pilot project ran in the Scottish Enterprise area of Scotland this project would
also provide a 50% intervention rate towards the match funding of secure bike storage for
accommodation providers. Secure bike storage is typically the least developed of the services
required for accommodation providers to offer a world class level of service to visiting mountain
bikers. This will be promoted in conjunction with the destination management organisations.

As previously mentioned, it is predicted that a key recommendation of the masterplanning process
will be the creation of several Trails Associations made up of volunteers to take on the stewardship
of trail networks identified as in great need of maintenance. In the first year of the project we would
focus on creating 3 trails associations in the Cairngorms, Fort William & Lochaber and Sutherland.
In the Western Cairngorms a group are already forming with active discussions with the Head of
DMBinS. The Western Cairngorms has seen a growth in unauthorised trail building activity in recent
years. The trail network developed as a result is very popular with mountain bikers who participate
in enduro riding, and with the advent of the ubiquitously used Trailforks app, mountain bikers who
aren’t local to the area have access to the location of such trails and, as a result, visitors come from
all over the country to ride these trails. It is of concern to the community and our partners, the
Cairngorm National Park Authority (CNPA), that these enduro trail networks are in very close
proximity to the lecking sites of the protected Capercaillie, and habitats of other protected species.
Though there is little evidence to suggest that mountain biking in the area has a negative impact on
these species, it is important that the situation is monitored closely. For these reasons, the Western
Cairngorms will be prioritised by the Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator for the creation of a
volunteer-led Trails Association within the first 12-months of the project. DMBinS have a good
working relationship with the stakeholders in this region, including both public and private land
owners, the riding community, bike shops and trail builders. Thus, it is foreseen that the creation of
a Trails Association (TA) at this location will be a relatively smooth and quick process in comparison
to other locations subject to masterplanning.

The Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will be required to conduct the following activities
towards the creation of the trails associations in Fort William & Lochaber and Sutherland:
    • Engage with riders, bike shops, other businesses, trail builders, land owners, CNPA, local
       authority representatives and other interested parties on the creation of a volunteer-led TA
    • Facilitate constructive consultation with the abovementioned stakeholders on the remit of
       the TA
    • Allocate funding for volunteer training on trail inspection, trail maintenance, and volunteer
       coordination
    • Allocate funding for the purchase of necessary tools and PPE for trail maintenance activities
    • Allocate funding for landowners and managers to undertake training on “Improving the
       Construction of Paths for Multi-Use - Mountain Bikes”
    • Produce social media content on the work of the TA to promote the formation of TAs at
       other locations, communicate to the wider community the benefits of stewardship, and to
       promote the volunteering opportunities available through the TA
    • Facilitate discussions on potential MOUs or Community Asset Transfers, where appropriate

The Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator will also be required to undertake training to
continue their professional development during the first 12-months in post. As the Co-ordinator is
expected to be an active member of the mountain biking community in the Highlands, and an active
member of TAs, they will be expected to secure an Outdoor First Aid Qualification, and a Trail or
Mountain Bike Leadership Qualification, delivered through British Cycling. Though leading mountain
bike rides is not a responsibility of the Co-ordinator, it may prove to be a very useful skill should
opportunities to lead groups arise organically over the course of the project. The qualification will
allow the Co-ordinator to lead riders in a safe manner and will provide them with the necessary
insurance through British Cycling.
        In preparation for facilitating the creation of TAs, the Co-ordinator will undertake a Trail
Inspection, and a Volunteer Trail Repair Co-ordinator Course, delivered by CTC.
        The Co-ordinator will also receive training from the MTBCoS Business Development
Executive, in order to educate them on the innovation support available through Scotland’s
economic development agencies. This will prepare the Co-ordinator to deliver innovation clinics for
Highlands-based businesses with an interest in serving the mountain biking community through
either products or services. It is expected that the Co-ordinator will deliver three innovation clinics
during the initial 12-month period of the project.
        The Co-ordinator will engage in some promotional activity with regard to the creation of the
new TA, advertising of the innovation clinic, etc., and this promotional activity will increase in 2020-
2022 as outlined below.
Activity Forecasting 2021-2023

Building on the activities and projects delivered in 2020, the Co-ordinator will work with regional
partners to help them secure the investment required to deliver the key infrastructure projects area
of the masterplan.

In this more delivery-focused phase of the project, the Co-ordinator will be required to formalise a
plan on how to implement the recommendations of the masterplanning activity. It is predicted that
this will entail working with DMOs to identify suitable funding streams for the sustainable
development of the trail network at each location and assisting DMOs in utilising the
masterplanning-derived evidence-base to enhance their success in securing this funding and,
perhaps, securing appropriate land management arrangements.

The co-ordinator will have an ongoing, but less intensive effort, to support Trails Associations in the
key locations, prioritising locations who have the greatest issues and require a higher level of
support. It is predicted that due to population sparsity that a combined trails association can be
formed between Torridon and the Islands of Skye. In the case of Torridon and Skye, due to the
proximity to the Co-ordinator’s base, it is likely that he or she will be unable to play an active on-the-
ground role but will assist in a remote advisory capacity. The Co-ordinator will facilitate the creation
of these TAs having learned much from the process of facilitating the creation from the other key
destinations.

The Co-ordinator will also facilitate the formation of business clusters at each location, with the aim
of encouraging businesses with an interest in mountain bike tourism to work together to create
attractive itineraries and packages for visitors with the goal of enhancing the visitor experience,
increase visitor dwell time and increase the number of return visits. The Co-ordinator will execute
this stream of work through the delivery of several innovation workshops over 2020-2022. These
workshops will bring in respected voices from the international tourism industry to share with
Scottish businesses best practice on achieving these goals.

The Co-ordinator will aim to deliver 9 innovation clinics at locations across the Highlands, including
Fort William, Inverness, Aviemore, Golspie, and Laggan. The Co-ordinator will seek to put
entrepreneurs in touch with Scotland’s economic development agencies such as Interface, Highlands
and Islands Enterprise and Business Gateway, as appropriate, and refer on to the BDE at MTBCoS for
product development and market research support. In the final months of the project, the Co-
ordinator will hand over all businesses to the BDE of MTBCoS to ensure they receive ongoing
support.

In this phase of the project, the Co-ordinator will undertake further CPD with regard to promotional
activity and content creation. It is of great importance that DMBinS are able to continually
communicate activities of the Co-ordinator to our large network of Scottish Mountain Bikers through
the proper channels, over the course of the project, in order to educate the community on the
merits of working closely with land owners and managers on trail stewardship and communicating
to the wider global mountain bike community on the good practice of Scotland. Another important
strand of this promotional activity will be to ensure that the Co-ordinator is able to effectively
advertise community and stakeholder consultations on projects, innovation workshops and
innovation clinics, to maximise attendance at events and therefore maximise the value of the
investment in these activities.

At approximately 5-6 monthly intervals, the DMBinS project manager, Co-ordinator and key
stakeholders will meet to assess the project progress and to revaluate the project plan as priorities
change over time. It is important that these meeting are held to ensure the project has an element
of flexibility and to monitor progress and measure impact of activities. In March 2020 and March
2021, stakeholder meetings will be held with the DMBinS project team and discussions held on
securing continued funding for the project. During the final months of the project an evaluation of
the project will be conducted by the DMBinS project manager and the Co-ordinator in order to
assess project goals against project outcomes, and to consider future options for development.
Proposed Allocation of Jobs for Mountain Bike Development Co-ordinator

               Role               Time Allocation
Recruit manage and
coordinate activities of the           40%
Master Planning Consultancy
limited to 2020
Engage local communities and
land owners on the creation of         20%
Voluntary Trails Associations
Work with Voluntary Trails
Associations and provide
training to volunteers and             20%
source relevant equipment,
insurances and MOUs
Deliver Community
Consultations on proposed              10%
developments
Deliver Innovation Support to
local businesses, promoting            10%
business to academia
collaborative opportunities
Deliver Innovation Workshops
on collective business plans           10%
and adventure tourism
Engage business community
on the formation of mountain           10%
bike sub-groups
Support key destinations in
applying for further funding           10%
for trail development
Consultation with destinations,
land owners, land managers             10%
and rider community on
promotion of facilities
Regions of Interest
It is suggested that the following destinations within the Highlands are subjected to the Master
Planning process, on the basis that a partner or group of partners from each region are able to
contribute to the proposed development project:

    1.   Fort William and Lochaber
    2.   Sutherland
    3.   Torridon
    4.   Western Cairngorms
    5.   Islands of Skye

See initial draft maps of the regions below.
Orange = areas with (or likely to have) high density of trails, including purpose built mountain bike
trails, for planning
Blue = The general area including link trails to be considered

                                         Western Cairngorms
Fort William and Lochaber

       Sutherland
Torridon

 Skye
You can also read
NEXT SLIDES ... Cancel