First Food Tourism Strategy for Scotland

Posted in: Food and Drink

Scotland’s food and drink and tourism sectors express their ambition for the country to become a global food tourism destination.

Food tourism is big business. Bringing producers and suppliers closer together with the tourism industry can be a key driver for economic, social and cultural development and evolution across the globe.

Providing unique taste of place experiences to locals and visitors alike that showcase the quality food and drink available to them, is now widely recognised to be an important way of boosting growth as well as raising the reputation of a destination.

Every visitor to Scotland eats and drinks and with 62%+ of holidaymakers believing it to be important that the food that they eat on holiday is locally sourced, Scotland is in a great position to harness the potential growth food tourism brings.

To capitalise on this opportunity, Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Tourism Alliance are working together, alongside the Culinary Tourism Alliance and as part of the newly appointed Food Tourism Strategy Board*, to develop Scotland’s first National Framework to Grow Food Tourism.

This new framework will provide Scotland with a huge opportunity to shine the spotlight on our own quality and diverse produce and to strengthen the association of Scotland as a place of outstanding food and drink experiences.

Food and drink is one of the themes in the national tourism strategy, Tourism Scotland 2020, which aspires to grow tourism spend by £1bn by 2020 and it is also a key part of the food and drink industry’s new and ambitious strategy, Ambition 2030.

The first stage in developing the new industry-driven food tourism framework calls for input from those who actively work in the food, drink and tourism sectors. The insights, input and feedback gained will be invaluable to the development of the strategy.

“We have a huge opportunity to make Scotland one of the leading food and drink destinations in the world.

James Withers Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink

Food, drink and tourism businesses are strongly advised to take part in this survey:

Fergus Ewing, Rural Affairs and Connectivity Minister said:

Our food and drink industry is world renowned for its quality, and is a key contributor to Scotland’s economy. Whether people visit Scotland to sample our spectacular natural landscapes or our fantastic cities, the one thing you can guarantee is that visitors will eat and drink when they are here.  

Our Programme for Government outlined our commitment to develop a national food tourism action plan, which drives to promote local produce and extol the virtues of the quality and provenance of our wonderful larder, and I would encourage all businesses to get involved and help us shape the plan by participating in the survey.”

James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink said:

“We have a huge opportunity to make Scotland one of the leading food and drink destinations in the world.

“Every day, almost £3 million is spent on food and drink by visitors in Scotland and we know that they are willing to pay even more for authentic food and drink experiences. Our food and drink is sold all over the world, from five-star hotels in Dubai to top bars in New York, but we want visitors in Scotland to have the same world class eating and drink experience.

We’ve set an ambitious target in our new strategy, Ambition 2030, to more than double the size of the food and drink industry to £30 billion by 2030.

“In order to reach this, we need to build on growth opportunities for food and drink businesses and help them capitalise on the growing demand for food and drink experiences. It is our time to shine and I encourage everyone involved in the food, drink and tourism sectors to give their views and help us cement our reputation as a global food and drink destination.”

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:

"The ambition of Tourism Scotland 2020, the national tourism strategy is to be ‘a destination of first choice for a high quality, value for money and memorable customer experience, delivered by skilled and passionate people.’ 

“Scotland’s food and drink is a hugely important part of this experience and it is more important than ever that all tourism businesses, destinations groups and groups interested in this area have the opportunity to have their say as this new food tourism framework is developed.

“Food and drink accounts for one in every five pounds spent by visitors and there is a clear opportunity for Scotland to grow into a global food tourism destination by working together to develop and deliver food and drink experiences at their best.

“As we start the process of developing our future Tourism Strategy to 2030 - delivering quality food and drink experiences will continue to be at the heart of the sector strategy as growing the food and drink visitor spend per person remains a real opportunity for all.”


†Source: Opening Up Scotland’s Larder to Our Visitors, VisitScotland

  • Visitors spend around £995 million on eating and drinking when they’re on holiday in Scotland with UK tourists accounting for £656 million and overseas tourists accounting for £339 million.
  • Around 20% of tourist spend goes on food and drink, after accommodation and travel costs have been taken into account.
  • Visitors believe that trying local food is now an integral part of the visitor experience with 26% of visitors agreeing strongly (scoring 10 out of 10) and 78% of visitors agreeing (scoring 7 out of 10) with the statement: ‘When on holiday I really like to find out about the local food and dishes unique to the destination’.
  • Our visitors engage in a wide variety of food and drink related activities when they stay in Scotland with 55% trying local food and 46% trying local drink. Dining out in restaurants, cafes and pubs topped the list of visitor activities at 92%.
  • Local food and drink has particular appeal to overseas visitors with long haul guests more likely to try local food than UK and European guests.
  • When on holiday in Scotland, 43% of our visitors speak to the locals to guide and influence their choice of places to eat out. Accommodation providers are also used to help choose places to eat (25% sought personal advice from their accommodation provider, 13% used the accommodation room pack and 9% used other leaflets at the accommodation).
  • 8% of our visitors said that the reputation of a restaurant with regard to the quality of its food was a factor in choosing their accommodation.


Scotland Food & Drink is the membership organisation tasked with driving responsible growth through collaborative partnership between public sector and its member companies. Working with The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, we aim to double the value of the country's farming, fishing, food and drink industry to £30 billion by 2030 and to cement Scotland’s reputation as a Land of Food and Drink.

Established in 2007, Scotland Food & Drink brings all the industry associations– from farmers and fishermen to manufacturers – together with the key public-sector agencies. Together, we work in a spirit of collaboration and partnership to develop the economic growth strategy for the industry, which Government and public-sector agencies align their support behind.

The SF&D Partnership is increasingly recognised across the rest of the UK and internationally as a model to follow. The partnership between industry and government forged through SF&D has been integral to success and is recognised as key to food and drink moving from being a sector of static growth in 2007, to one of the best performing sectors of the Scottish economy.



The Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) is a Canadian-based not-for-profit devoted to connecting taste-makers, sharing their stories, and facilitating developments in food tourism.

Grow Food Tourism (GFT) is a branch within the CTA that works with destinations at different stages along the food tourism development cycle to bridge the gap between the food and travel sectors. The GFT team could not be more thrilled to be working with Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Tourism Alliance to develop a National Framework to Grow Food Tourism.