HISTORIC buildings, old vehicles and even unwanted storage units are being saved and transformed into quirky tourism experiences, to help make Scotland stand out as a unique destination and help preserve the past.

With Easter over, attention is turning to booking summer holidays and according to VisitScotland’s latest insights, the British public intend to take more UK domestic trips this year, compared to before the pandemic.

Scotland is one of the leading choices to consider among UK residents and by far the most preferred destination for Scottish residents.

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Those intending to take a holiday in the UK want to try local food and drink as well as explore local history and heritage.

Gethin Chamberlain and Carolynn Shaw took on The Coach House at Ettrick Lodge, previously an old billiard room and coach house, to create The Five Turrets holiday home in Selkirk in The Scottish Borders. 

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Gethin said: “The place needed a lot of work and we borrowed quite heavily but it has paid off because everyone seems to like the mix of old and modern that we achieved, we are fully booked most of the year.

“From the start we wanted to work with local businesses to make sure the business was an asset to the community - we wanted our guests to contribute to the local economy and support the great local businesses here. 

"So, we work with local restaurants to provide a personal chef service, you can get bikes and e-bikes delivered to the door, go for a guided fishing expedition, get paddle boards delivered, gin tasting session - all local business who benefit from the recommendations. 

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"And we also set up a social enterprise, Go Wild Scotland, to create a new nature reserve for the town offering wildlife tourism experiences to fund free activities for our community.” 

In 2022, there were 1,254,957 unique page visits on VisitScotland.com’s filtered accommodation searches for more unusual options including farmhouses, camping pods, glamping, yurts, and tipis, wigwams and tents.

The most popular searches among them were cabins, lodges, chalets, castles, farmhouses, camping pods, lighthouses and treehouses.

Most searches for the different types of accommodation available originated in the UK, followed by the USA, then Germany and the Netherlands.

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The total number of unique accommodation searches in 2022 was 2,752,297. This number includes every type of accommodation, including hostels, hotels, and self-catering. 

With period features, historic properties and quirky renovations acting as a draw for visitors, it has a knock-on effect for local bars, restaurants, tours, outdoor activities and attractions, to bolster the local economy.

Operating historic properties and other repurposed large materials as accommodation keeps them in use for future generations to enjoy, as well as helping prevent them being demolished, boarded up, or left to decay.

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VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said: “There’s a great demand for eye-catching and unique holiday experiences from visitors, keen to properly immerse themselves in Scottish history and culture. 

“It is wonderful to see how our resourceful and creative tourism entrepreneurs and operators as a force for good; investing time, money, love and effort into old buildings, vehicles and machinery to create priceless holiday memories, while also helping to create jobs, sustaining community assets and contributing significantly to the economy.”