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November 14, 2017
Scottish food and drink
Scottish beef, such as this tomahawk steak at Hutchesons Bar and Brasserie, is a big attraction for overseas visitors. Pic: Kenny Lam

The perception of Scottish food and drink has changed hugely over the last twenty years.

In roughly that time, it has gone from close to national joke to something we can justifiably be proud of.

That is not to say that things are perfect. They are not but they are getting better at a rate of knots.

And we don’t just mean the Michelin-starred restaurants that grab the lion’s share of the headlines.

Certainly in most of Scotland’s major cities and towns, there are restaurants at all price points which make thoughtful use of carefully sourced, local produce.

And the range of good quality, Scottish produce is growing. Or perhaps we are becoming more aware of it and more prepared to shout about it.

Either way, it seems as though the message about Scotland’s much improved food scene is rippling out beyond our most immediate neighbours.

VisitScotland survey

VisitScotland recently conducted research into what visitors thought of Scottish food and drink when here on holiday.

You can read the full report here. We thought you might enjoy some edited extracts.

The good news is that visitors spend around £995 million on eating and drinking when they’re on holiday in Scotland.

UK tourists account for £656 million of that and overseas tourists accounting for the other £339 million.

The survey found that food and drink is not a primary motivator for visitors to Scotland.

Scottish food and drink expectations

However, trying local food and drink was seen as an important part of the holiday experience.

Interestingly, there is what the researchers call a ‘positive gap’ between the expectations and experience of the quality of food in Scotland.

Particularly for international visitors, the experience they actually have of Scottish food is better than the one they expected.

Obviously, this is a double-edged sword. It means their expectations are not as high as they should be.

On the other hand, they are pleasantly surprised when they get here and, presumably, realise that things are better than they feared or had dared to hope.

At 58% of people surveyed, top of the wish list for visitors was ‘eating simple, locally sourced food in local restaurants’.  After that, 42% wanted to try the pub food.

Eating in an unusual setting appealed to 34% of those surveyed while 28% were interested in following the dining tips of locals. Only 7% were interested in dining in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Night in the pub

There were some interesting preferences according to nationality. Half of visiting Germans want to taste whisky while on a distillery tour while 61% of visiting Australians wanted a night out in the pub.

The only stat that seemed unlikely to this blogger was the one that stated that 33% of Scots wanted to have a picnic.