Last week it was announced that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) has plans to boost the value of game shooting, stalking and fishing to the rural economy by £30 million, via its new ‘Game for Growth’ strategy.
The Game for Growth strategy document can be read here: sctsg-game-for-growth-strategy-document-dec-2016
It’s a pretty turgid read, full of tedious marketing soundbites, but basically it sets out how the industry plans to promote Scottish country sports over the next four years to reach a wider national and international market. This will be achieved mostly, it seems, by claiming the industry is sustainable with fabulous conservation benefits and ignoring the vast environmental damage and wildlife crime associated with some activities within this sector.
Interestingly, VisitScotland (the national tourism agency linked to the Scottish Government) has apparently committed to boosting the country sports tourism sector and has announced a matched ‘Growth Fund’ to help SCSTG develop its marketing strategy and increase its online presence.
We’re not the only ones to raise an eyebrow at this. Andy Wightman MSP has lodged the following Parliamentary Question about it:
Question S5W-05930: Andy Wightman (Lothian, Scottish Green Party). Date lodged: 22/12/2016
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a breakdown of the recipients of financial contributions from VisitScotland to the strategy, Game for Growth Strategy – Country Sports Tourism in Scotland 2016; what information it has regarding how each recipient will use this; what action it has taken to ensure that no money was provided to the owners or managers of landholdings on which crimes against wildlife have been committed; whether it will publish the strategy on its website, and what aspects of this it is supporting or plans to support with public money.
Expected answer date: 19/01/2017
These are legitimate questions, and especially when you take a closer look at the SCSTG website, which has been developed to connect potential visitors with various country sports providers across Scotland. For example, if you want to pay money to shoot mountain hares in Scotland, you can use the website’s search facility and a number of sporting agents/estates who offer this ‘sport’ will be highlighted.
We used the search facility to look for various ‘sporting’ opportunities and were very surprised to find that sporting agency Dunmhor Sporting was being promoted:
Why the surprise? Well, Graham Christie of Dunmhor Sporting was convicted in December last year of being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who had used an illegal gin trap to catch and injure a buzzard on the Cardross Estate.
Why is the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group promoting an agent who has a current conviction for wildlife crime? And why is VisitScotland providing match funding to an organisation that is promoting a convicted wildlife criminal?