Scotland’s food and drink sector is booming. The new Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan aims to boost it further.
A quick scan of the news headlines makes it easy to retreat behind the mantra that things are bad and will only get worse.
Of course, it’s rubbish. Or, at least, it is a sweeping generalisation.
Some things are doing very well. Scotland’s food and drink sector is one of them. It generated £13.9 billion in turnover in 2016.
That is a rise of 3.9% from the previous year, and the greatest annual growth since 2011.
The powers that be aim to build on that success with the just released Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan.
It was launched yesterday by the industry and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the Isle of Arran.
Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan
You can read the full plan in detail here.
Visitors to Scotland already spend around £1 billion a year on food and drink.
In brief, the idea of the action plan is that by 2030 it will generate an extra £1 billion spend on local produce by maximising the links between tourism and food and drink.
We can unpack those figures a little. Visitors currently spend around £995 million on eating and drinking when they’re on holiday in Scotland. UK tourists account for £656 million of that total and overseas tourists account for £339 million.
In order to double that sum, measures in the plan 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
Land of food and drink
Making the announcement, the First Minister 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. Eating and drinking is one guaranteed activity that every visitor in Scotland will undertake. 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.’