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NEAT Industry Event 2024 Report

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Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire adventure industry gather to reflect on 2023 and look forward to 2024 and beyond

Industry Event Photo

The 2024 North East Adventure Tourism project’s annual industry engagement event was held at Maryculter House Hotel on March 7th.

More than 80 businesses and stakeholders from across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire gathered to connect, collaborate and reflect on recent activity. Attendees included NEAT project partners including Opportunity North East, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, VisitAberdeenshire and the Cairngorm National Park Authority; a significant representation of local adventure business and hospitality providers alongside land managers and key agencies connected to the adventure sector.

The event provided an update on recent NEAT project activity, successes from 2023 and a reflection on the past 4 years of project delivery. International perspective was provided byLuca D'Angelo, the destination manager of the Paganella Tourism Board, and Andrea Gelsomino, the CEO and co-founder of The Outdoor Project who shared the Paganella region’s story of diversification, innovation and growth. Paganella has transformed from a traditional winter sports destination to a year-round hub for adventure and outdoor activities and their story was both thought provoking and inspirational.

Key regional successes from 2023 include the opening of Tarland Trail Pittenderich attracting over 40,000 visits in its first year of operation, the second wave of Just Transition investment enabling infrastructure works at Transition Extreme and Huntly Development Trust sites, European Awards for Aberdeenshire Trail Association, the region being voted Scottish MTB Destination of the Year for the second consecutive time, piloting a pioneering adventure bus project, support for events in the region, investing in specialist skills and training for the sector and grant funding enabling hospitality and accommodation businesses to enhance their offer to adventure tourism visitors.

Taking a longer term view we can reflect on the fact that since 2019 over £3million of public & private sector investment has been secured for adventure tourism in the region contributing towards infrastructure development, skills and education, hospitality support, exploring connectivity solutions, providing networking and partnership opportunities, raising the regions profile and seeking to address the challenges that industry highlighted to ensure the region capitalises on the adventure tourism opportunity in a sustainable and regionally appropriate manner.

Jennifer Craw
"The unique approach to developing the region's adventure tourism opportunity is driving forward investment in new and iconic community-led and not-for-profit infrastructure, upskilling people in the sector, building our portfolio of events, and promoting the destination. While our focus is on regional impact, our outlook is global. NEAT and this region are increasingly recognised nationally and internationally for what we achieve here. And we look to the best examples globally to draw inspiration and learn from. Fulfilling the region's full potential as an adventure tourism destination is not a sprint. We know there is more to do. The private sector-led partnership we have co-created with partners and co-funders is working. We will continue to make a case for significant investments to achieve the NEAT ambition."

Jennifer Craw: Chief Executive Opportunity North East

Luca D’Angelo
"Since our last visit in 2019, we've witnessed remarkable strides in Aberdeenshire's journey towards becoming a premier mountain biking destination. The dedication to investing in top-notch trail design and fostering collaboration among local stakeholders to navigate the ever-evolving trends in Outdoor Tourism is truly commendable. These proactive steps are key to nurturing and enhancing the positive image of this vital tourism sector. We can’t wait to see the further implementation of these initiatives through the North East Adventure Tourism project and the partnership work it is driving."

Luca D’Angelo destination manager of the Paganella Tourism Board


Annual Industry Event 2024

Join us as we bring together a range of adventure tourism stakeholders from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire to review the past year and look ahead to 2024 with a touch of international insight.

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