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As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, VisitScotland has reminisced on the journey Scotland’s larder and tourism has taken over the years.
The national tourism organisation has been championing our food and drink since its beginning in 1969. Special campaigns developed in the early 70s have been built upon with the 21st Century bringing visitor demands for not only an authentic and original taste of Scotland, but also the background and origins of the food and drink on their plate.
VisitScotland launched the “A Taste of Scotland Scheme” in 1972 to promote the country’s food and drink to visitors as a reason to visit.
In February and March 1973, the Scottish Tourist Board – as it was then called - worked with the British Tourist Authority and the British Airports Authority in a special audio-visual promotion in the USA.
Taste of Scotland was staged in twenty-one cities where Scottish food and entertainment was given to some 2,000 representatives of the US travel trade, British tour operators had on offer all types of holidays available in Scotland.
Hotels and restaurants were encouraged to offer the best traditional Scottish dishes. A small working group of representatives from the hotel and catering trade was set up to identify for the visitor those restaurants which featured Scottish dishes. The scheme began with 150 restaurants and had doubled by 1975. Fast forward to 2004 and VisitScotland worked on a special collector’s edition of seminal food bible Bon Appetit in 2004, which was entirely devoted to the taste of Scotland and our culinary highlights and hidden gems.
Over the years this developed in to what we now call the Taste Our Best programme. It was launched in 2013 and celebrates businesses that provide quality Scottish food and drink experiences. With around 1,000 regularly inspected hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, cafes, visitor attractions and takeaways across Scotland which have achieved Taste Our Best accreditation, it is easy for visitors to find Scottish produce prepared with care and delivered with passion.
Research shows that visitors spend around 20% of their expenditure on food and drink - around £1 billion expenditure in the Scottish economy. Two thirds of Scotland’s visitors think quality food is an important factor when deciding where to go on holiday and are prepared to pay up to 15% more for produce of Scottish or regional origin.
The first ever Food Tourism Action Plan for Scotland - led by the Scottish Tourism Alliance and Scotland Food and Drink - was launched 12 months ago and aims to capitalise on the opportunities that food tourism brings. VisitScotland is a key partner on the Food Tourism board.Janie Neumann, VisitScotland’s Industry Sustainability Manager, said:
“There has never been a more important time to support local food and drink producers and businesses – to support traditional skills and food heritage, lessen the food miles, and help boost the economies of the local communities in which these businesses are based. Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is integral to sustaining communities across Scotland by generating income, creating jobs and stimulating social change.
“And with the launch of Food Tourism Action Plan for Scotland, we are delighted to be collaborating with a wide range of other partners to support the delivery of the plan. Its vision is that in 2030 Scotland is a globally-recognised food tourism destination where high quality, memorable food and drink experiences are delivered by proud and passionate local ambassadors.
“It is a bold, exciting and ambitious plan that will not only position our country as a food tourism destination, but also support Scottish producers and businesses and their local, often rural communities, as well as provide visitors with great quality food and drink experiences.”
VisitScotland celebrates 50 years of Scottish food and drink