Experiencing Scotland

Why offer Scottish food and drink?

For many visitors, culinary tourism is an integral part of their travel experience.

There is increasing demand from visitors to Scotland to sample distinctive local food and to taste traditional cooking. VisitScotland’s recent Visitor Survey found that trying local food was the joint top most popular activity undertaken by visitors when here. What’s more, a third of visitors say they would consider booking accommodation simply because of its reputation for outstanding food.

Research undertaken by Scottish Enterprise has indicated:

  • Consumers prefer to buy food with local provenance (i.e. food sold with an explicit reference to where it comes from). They perceive that food 'with a story behind it' is of better quality.
  • Visitors are willing to pay up to 15% more for food that they know is of Scottish or regional origin. Providing Scottish food for your visitors will therefore improve your bottom line.
  • Businesses and events providing local food enhance the visitor experience and typically enjoy higher levels of sales - up to 20% more per year.

Raising the quality of what you offer and meeting the expectations of visitors for locally - produced food, will therefore add value to your service and result in more satisfied customers who will stay longer and spend more in your business. In addition, they are likely to tell their friends and relatives - the cheapest and the most effective form of advertising! What's more, by offering Scottish food and drink, you are supporting other Scottish businesses, helping to build Scotland's reputation as a Land of Food and Drink and ensuring that your business contributes to the Scottish economy.

Tips for improving your Scottish food and drink offer

  • Build relationships with local producers and suppliers, so that you know what’s in season and available when.
  • Create new recipes incorporating locally-produced food and drink, and refresh your menu regularly to make the most of the seasonal, local produce on your doorstep.
  • If you offer locally-sourced food, make sure you tell your visitors about it on menus, in marketing materials and online.
  • If a particular ingredient or dish has an interesting tale behind it, tell the story to your visitors.
  • Highlight regional specialities and traditional Scottish dishes, so that visitors know they are getting a uniquely Scottish experience
  • ‘Match up’ key menu items with local drinks such as cider, beer, whisky or soft drinks, to drive sales and increase margins. 
  • Signpost to individual producers and suppliers, so that guests know where they can buy the raw ingredients.

For examples of how businesses across Scotland are benefiting from local sourcing, check out our Case Studies

For more great tips on adding a Scottish flavour to your menu, see our Top Tips factsheets.

Check out our latest  'Menu of the Month' to find out how one business is promoting locally-sourced food to visitors.

How Experiencing Scotland can help

In 2010, Scottish Enterprise launched the ‘Experiencing Scotland' project to support tourism companies to provide and promote the high quality food and drink produce Scotland offers.

Through the project’s one-to-one advice and business support, some 90 tourism companies, collectively reaching over 14 million visitors, have committed to offering Scottish food and drink to their customers. This has resulted in an average yearly increase in food and drink sales turnover of 10% for each of the businesses taking part.

One-to-one business advice and support is available to tourism businesses with food & drink operations

Eligible businesses can access in-depth expert advice from our catering consultant, aimed at assisting participants to offer and promote quality, Scottish produce. Business Support includes:

  • An introduction to business tools plus support networks available
  • Up to two days of direct business support, delivering a diagnostic analysis which reviews menu offer, service delivery, purchasing, marketing, staff skills and overall financial performance
  • A bespoke action plan with benchmarks , targets for growth and timescales for achievement
  • A review of progress and telephone support as required

“This independent diagnostic from Experiencing Scotland covered our entire catering operation, from sourcing, hygiene and food preparation through to marketing, staff training and service. With visitor numbers growing year-on-year, it provided a timely business ‘health check’ and a range of practical ideas to help us improve customer flow and maximise our merchandising potential”.

Barbara Smith, Managing Director, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

“We consider food, and the stories surrounding it, to be an extremely important part of the whole experience here at BT Murrayfield. The advice and support we have received from Experiencing Scotland has provided some fantastic ideas to help us showcase this passion for provenance to corporate guests, from initial enquiry through to the conclusion of their event”.

James Nicholson, Site Director, The Murrayfield Experience

Click here to find out more about eligibility and to register interest, or call 0845 607 8787, email: enquiries@scotent.co.uk

Experiencing Scotland Workshops

These one day workshops offer groups an introduction to delivering profitable and engaging visitor experiences which put local produce at the heart of their food & drink offer. Applications from groups of 10+ tourism businesses (with food and drink operations) are invited.

Click here to find out more about the workshops.

A range of FREE business updates are available

Including examples of food tourism excellence; case studies focusing on business growth delivered by capitalising on provenance; top tips for showcasing the outstanding produce available in Scotland; information on working with local suppliers; plus links to the latest food and drink-related events and resources.

To register for updates, sign up below.

Download our latest Quarterly Update