SCOTTISH tourism and food and drink sector leaders are to bring in a series of ground-breaking measures as part of a £1 billion sustainable tourism push including a new apprentice programme and ethical travel proposals.

Around 500 industry leaders will gather at the SEC in Glasgow next week as the ways to implement the proposals aimed at significantly boosting the tourism spend within a decade are set out before Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance conference will hear how the new industry-led Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan has been designed to capitalise further on two of Scotland’s most successful sectors, tourism and food and drink, at a level that will satisfy the planet-conscious traveller.

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As well as details of the creation of a food tourism apprenticeship programme the conference is expected to hear from Stagecoach and LNER on the future trends of the journeying tourist.

With the strategy centred around the country’s fare, its welcome and its history, all the ingredients are there, say proponents who will push forward the promotion of local sourcing, improved marketing for food and drink tourism and the creation of next generation agri-tourism farms to help stimulate diversification.

However it comes against fresh headwinds, and earlier in our special series there was also a warning on the impact of restricting immigration on the tourism sector and a call for a Scottish visa system.

The food and drink tourism plan, backed by the Scottish Government, is described as ambitious by its architects at industry representatives Scotland Food & Drink and the STA.


James Withers, SFD chief executive, above, said: “What we are seeing whether it is gluten-free or plant-based diet is a much more complex consumer landscape out there.

“You can either see that as a challenge or an opportunity.

“I think for a lot of providers it is a real challenge, but actually, if we can drive a good level of innovation within the food industry to meet those requirements it should be a real opportunity as well.

“There is no doubt that it is moving fast, and not least health and wellness, which is going to be here to stay. We can see that coming. If Scotland is going to be a destination for health tourism whether that is about fresh air and outdoor activity then that is going to feed through into the food and drink experience as well."

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He added: “We’ve got all the ingredients, I don’t think we need to be revolutionising what we are producing in Scotland, we’ve just probably historically been better at selling it on the other side of the world than selling it on our doorstep.”


Marc Crothall, STA chief executive, said: “We can present Scotland in such a way that every touch-point of their journey from end to end is being considered with responsible green, environmentally-friendly agenda, and their carbon footprint then is offset through the practices, and that’s going back into foods, that the choices of food options, but more importantly the practices of zero waste management, and how those restaurants operate internally is really considered in a positive way, but we have to be offering choice.

“Our aim and ambition is to grow an extra £1bn worth of revenue through tourism spend, but it’s not by increasing necessarily the volume of visitor. It’s actually getting more money spent on food and drink via tourists.”

Its plan is to up the current 21p in the tourist pound on food and drink to 25p.

“How do we believe that will happen? It’s about having more Scottish produce available on our gantries and in our restaurants.

"It’s about having better storytelling, and it’s about presenting Scotland as a food destination of choice.”

Delivering the food tourism plan is one of the actions embedded within Scotland’s future overarching tourism strategy for 2030 and the national food and drink strategy.

Tomorrow: The international food and drink tourism trends that Scotland should know about.