CYCLING generates almost 10 times as much tourist spending in Scotland as whisky, according to a new report which calls on marketing experts to brand Scotland as a "must-visit" destination for cycling enthusiasts.

The report by transport campaign group, Transform Scotland, estimates the total value of cycle tourism in Scotland is up to £239 million per year, significantly higher than previously suggested.

Transform Scotland says there is scope for growth to make leisure cycling one of Scotland's top tourism activities. Its publication coincides with a trip to the Netherlands today by Transport Minister Keith Brown, where he is due to meet Dutch cycling experts and experience first-hand the country's cycling infrastructure.

The report, The Value of Cycle Tourism, published in partnership with Sustrans Scotland, urges tourism bosses to promote cycling to a wider range of groups and support the marketing of scenic routes.

Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, said: "While Scotland has a reputation for mountain biking, much more could be done to brand Scotland as a 'must-visit' destination for cycle tourists and leisure trips. There is substantial room for growth in touring and leisure cycling and with appropriate promotion could make an even greater contribution to Scotland's economy."

A previous report by Scottish Natural Heritage estimated tourist spend on all adventure activities –including cycling – benefited the Scottish economy to the tune of £178m annually, compared to £533m for hillwalking and mountaineering. Meanwhile, a Scotch Whisky Association report in 2011 said visitors to distilleries and whisky centres were worth £27m a year.

Dr Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said attracting more cyclists would provide a boost to businesses such as hotel, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and cycle tour operators.

Meanwhile, Mr Brown is meeting specialists in Amersfoort, where he will tour a railway station with integrated infrastructure such as cycle and electric car hire networks. He is joined by Glasgow councillor Frank McAveety and Jim Orr, of Edinburgh City Council.