With Burns Night approaching, Ayrshire and Arran tourism businesses are being encouraged to tap into a growing trend for ‘meet the maker’ style visitor experiences, to attract international visitors. 

And they have highlighted the work of one farm on Arran which allowed visitors to get up close to their Highland cows and alpacas.

The island's Bellevue Farm provides a guided “Meet the Farmer Tour” and a self-guided “Bellevue Farm Experience”.

Both allow animal feeding and include Highland cows and alpacas. Additional tours include lambing experiences and wool craft workshops. 

Ailsa Currie, from Bellevue, near Blackwaterfoot on the island's west coast, said: “Our farm tours give visitors the opportunity to meet the farming family and hear firsthand about life on a traditional island farm.

"Every day on the farm is different depending on the season and we are passionate about letting visitors hear our 'farm to fork' story.

"We pride ourselves on being able to produce happy, high-quality livestock in an extensive and environmentally friendly way and delight in watching the pleasure our visitors get from interacting with our animals.    

“The special thing about our experience is that we can change and tailor visits to cover exactly what our visitors are most interested in.

"Some visitors are interested in Highland cows, so we can take them to the field and our friendly cows will eat from their outstretched hand. Other visitors might be interested in machinery and take delight in sitting in one of our large working tractors.” 

VisitScotland this week revealed increased demand from visitors from the USA, France and Germany who want to really immerse themselves in Scottish culture and get first-hand experience meeting the people and learning about the skills behind the making of it.    

Businesses are picking up on this trend and adapting their experience to offer hands on opportunities that include making your own Haggis, gin, tartan, or learn to Ceilidh dance and playing the bagpipes.   

VisitScotland’s director of marketing, Vicki Miller, said: “Scotland has lots of fantastic visitor experiences that allow those on holiday to really immerse themselves in local culture.

"By offering immersive experiences businesses can attract higher value visitors who will stay longer and spend more.  VisitScotland can provide advice to any businesses looking to sell their experience through the travel trade to reach new audiences and markets.  

“Tourism is an important economic driver, benefiting all parts of Scotland but the experience of visiting Scotland provides many other benefits to Scotland and our visitors - not only do we get to share our rich culture, traditions and modern innovations.

"Visitors leave feeling enriched taking away new information, skills, memories and experiences that are unique to Scotland - experiences that also have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.”