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Opportunity to Quote (OTQ) – Masterplanning of Key Mountain Biking (MTB) Destinations in the Highlands of Scotland.

Background and Justification

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) is part of Scottish Cycling and is responsible for overseeing the national strategy for mountain biking in Scotland (the MTB strategy). The MTB strategy has an ambitious vision for Scotland to be recognised as the leading nation in Europe for mountain biking.

The MTB strategy has a mission to increase the economic contribution of mountain biking by 51% to be worth £257m GVA per annum to the Scottish economy, grow participation to 2m rides per annum and for Scots to be crowned world champion or world series winner in every mountain bike discipline.

DMBinS is supported by the MTB Consortium a partnership of Scottish Government, national agencies and other cycling organisations. 

To achieve this exciting vision and mission the Highlands region will play an important role. The MTB strategy identifies key destinations to target for growth. In the Highlands, the MTB strategy identifies Fort William and Lochaber as a ‘Premier Destination’ and the Cairngorms and North of Scotland, primarily Sutherland, Wester Ross and Skye, as a ‘Priority Destinations’. These destinations had successfully developed trail centres in the late 1990’s to mid-2000’s at Nevis Range, Laggan, Balblair, Carbisdale, Balnain and Golspie and the area has benefitted from increased numbers of visitors as a result.

For a variety of reasons, there has been very little product development and marketing of these assets, indeed, some have now been decommissioned as official mountain bike trail centres. As other areas of Scotland, UK and Europe are investing in this growth market there is a risk that the Highlands might lose its market position, and suffer economically, as a result.

DMBinS have partnered with interested parties including Highland and Islands Enterprise, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Government and the relevant Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) to drive the sustainable development of mountain biking in the Highlands.

Jointly they have identified the need to strategically plan the mountain bike offer in these destinations linked with destination and community development to sustainably grow the economic contribution of the Scottish mountain bike tourism sector and for it to play an important role in helping communities to become healthier, happier and more resilient.

There is a recognised demand for an improvement in mountain bike facilities in the Highlands to help develop a co-ordinated approach to infrastructure improvements, destination management and marketing and promotion. This will help ensure the region, and Scotland, maximises the impact of hosting international level events, provides attractive itineraries for growing mountain bike markets and ensures the mountain bike community is better integrated and better-equipped to improve the sustainability of mountain bike trails.

Project Overview

As a collective, a need for masterplanning has been identified across the key destinations to understand the current mountain biking offering versus current and projected future demand in key growth markets. DMBinS wishes to commission the services of experienced Masterplanning Consultants to undertake a regional masterplanning exercise on its behalf.

The process should seek to identify the current strengths and weaknesses of each area in terms of current tourism offer including current and future markets, accommodation base and relevant other activities, promotion, the extent, nature and potential of the trails including an evaluation of their sustainability.

The masterplans would identify necessary developments and strategies that could be put in place to maximise the sustainable growth potential of mountain biking in each area and provide positive economic benefits to the community as a whole. This process should take into account key growth markets including families, enduro, adventure riding, e-biking and bike park. 

The purpose of this masterplanning exercise is to provide DMBinS, and our partner organisations, with evidence-based recommendations for strategic trail network developments and guidance on community-led trail development and stewardship, and appropriate business development.

The remit of the consultants will be to develop trail network designs that can be taken forward in phased stages. The consultant will develop design layouts including plans and elevations and will present these in the form of a report (print or digital) which outlines the design proposals, illustrating the scheme in scale plans, sections and elevations to enable the spatial arrangements, materials and appearance to be approved in future funding applications.

DMBinS and its partners will use the report findings and recommendations to secure future funding for trail network development and thus, it is essential that a strong evidence base and justification for recommendations is clear. Therefore, it would be of considerable value if consultants were able to provide a level of forecasting on impact that the recommended developments would bring, both in terms of usage, longevity, and to the Highland economy.

Download the full Opportunity to Quote (OTQ)

Image credit: Sean Green