TOURISTS are being invited to sample the tastes and culinary delights of Scotland alongside the sights the country has to offer with the creation of 'foodie trails' showcasing distinctive local produce.

A new guide has been created to encourage visitors to seek out edible excitement during their holiday by setting out ten culinary tours signposting the way to fine dining alongside local attractions and holiday spots.

National tourist agency VisitScotland has created the list to promote the Year of Food and Drink 2015, a 12-month celebration of Scotland's natural larder and unique dining choices.

As well as highlighting places to experience great Scottish food, the downloadable ebook offers visitors a guide of what else there is to do in the area, with activities ranging from events to historic attractions and outdoor activities.

The range of Scotland's food and drink has gained international renown and research shows that almost half of people who come on holiday here want to sample local produce.

Michelin-starred restaurateur Martin Wishart, whose restaurants in Leith and Loch Lomond attract an international clientele, said that the quality of Scotland's produce is known throughout the world and a major attraction to tourists in its own right.

He said: "Showcasing Scotland's food and drink like this is a good idea because of the range of foodstuffs on offer.

"We have fantastic ingredients which can be found across the country, along with fantastic cafes, bars and restaurants."

The 'Taste of Scotland's Foodie Trails' guide pinpoints the specific food and drinks each area has to offer and has been catered to appeal to individual palates.

One trail has been designed for lovers of seafood, taking in the west coast of Scotland to highlight treasures of the Atlantic Ocean and Argyll's sea lochs, while another heads to Angus, the land of the Arbroath smokie, a delicacy that was granted protected geographical status under European Law in 2004.

The boom in microbreweries and growing popularity of craft beers is highlighted on the Real Ale Trail, which takes in a number of the independent breweries across the country and celebrates Scotland's long history of brewing beer.

And whisky is well represented, with two trails raising a glass to Scotland's 'water of life'. The whisky Coast travels across the western coast of Scotland, uncovering the secrets behind the art of whisky creation, while those with a nose for the finest malts are invited to discover the delights to be found in Speyside in the Highlands.

Recent figures estimate that Scotland's foodie tourism is worth £2.5 million per day to the economy, while the food and drink industry as a whole worth almost £14 billion a year.

VisitScotland is undertaking a range of activities to highlight the Year of Food and Drink, including creating a dedicated event fund, working with engagement sources and linking the country's food and drink with events around Scotland.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: "Scotland's famous food and drink comes from its unique landscapes, unspoiled habitats and varied weather, which is perfect for producing a wide variety of high quality fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and much more.

"This year, as we take Scotland to the world, we celebrate the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic and tourism success.

"I hope this e-book provides some food for thought, not just for visitors but also people in Scotland.

"We have a world-class natural larder right here on our doorstep, the Year of Food and Drink provides the perfect opportunity to go out and enjoy it."