TOURISM: New plan to develop food and drink tourism in Scotland

Visitors to Scotland already spend around £1 billion a year on food and drink. Now a new plan aims to deliver an additional £1bn into Scotland’s economy by 2030.

The industry-led Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan, launched recently by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the Isle of Arran, sets out a range of actions to maximise the potential of two of Scotland’s most successful sectors – tourism and food and drink.

A key thrust of the plan is to unlock the growth potential of local produce. Measures include:

  • The creation of a food tourism apprenticeship programme
  • Supporting the top 100 visitor attractions to achieve “Taste Our Best”, the quality assurance accreditation scheme promoting local sourcing
  • Improved marketing for food and drink tourism
  • Creating the next generation of agri-tourism monitor farms to stimulate diversification
  • A further programme of Showcasing Scotland events – bringing regional buyers and suppliers together

The First Minister and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing met Alastair Dobson of Taste of Arran – a champion of food tourism – during a visit to the Auchrannie Resort while on the island for a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland is already renowned as the land of food and drink, with our quality produce known throughout the world.

“With around £1 billion being spent on food on drink by visitors each year, the economic benefits are clear.

“This action plan will bring together everyone in the food and tourism sectors to build on that success story.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Scottish food and drink is sold all over the world, from five-star hotels in Dubai to top bars in New York, but we want to ensure visitors in Scotland to have the same world-class eating and drinking experience.

“There are already many pockets of success but we want a new, nationwide approach to food tourism.

“We know that a good, local food and drink experience is what visitors want – it drives spend in our tourism businesses and it supports local producers. Above all though, it builds Scotland food, drink and tourism reputation on the world stage.”

The Scottish Tourism Alliance’s chief executive, Marc Crothall, stressed that “collaboration is the foundation of our national tourism strategy”.

Scotland Food & Drink and the STA, he said, with the right support and buy-in from the public and private sectors, “can lead and deliver the growth ambition of an extra £1 billion being spent by visitors on food and drink by 2030”.

He said that the STA and SF&D would encourage and support all food and drink-related businesses to embrace the plan so that those who choose to visit, drink and dine out in Scotland’s hotels, pubs, cafés, bars and restaurants can enjoy an even greater choice of local, quality, authentic food and drink experiences in destinations throughout Scotland, delivered by skilled and passionate people.

The Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan can be read in full here

Image: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with, from left, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, Marc Crothall of the STA and James Withers, Scotland Food & Drink

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