Food and drink producers along with tourism businesses are set to team up at a major event this year designed to bring hundreds of thousands more tourists to Scotland by developing and branding it as a food destination.
The Taste for Tourism event, with the tagline ‘Has Scotland got what it takes to be a global food tourism destination?’ will take place in Oban between 3rd and 5th November 2015.
The event is being organised by Food from Argyll, Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, with support from a number of partners.
Capitalising on its food and drink heritage, the Taste for Tourism campaign and event aims to catapult Scotland to the top of the wish list for tourists who see high quality food and drink as a rich cultural experience and the main reason to travel – a valuable and high-spending segment.
That means not just ensuring that top quality local produce is widely available in hotels, pubs and restaurants, but that we celebrate this important part of our culture with our visitors and that this is at the heart of as many activities and experiences as possible.
The summit will be hands on and support the Scottish Government’s Year of Food and Drink celebrations.
The aim is to bring together food producers, tourism businesses, tour operators, agencies and the media to learn about each other and discuss ways of further developing food tourism in Scotland. It takes place in Oban, Argyll, with behind the scenes flavour tours on 3rd November, the main conference on the 4th and an optional trip to Mull on the 5th of November 2015.
Featuring top international speakers with experience of building food destinations, question and answer sessions and of course the opportunity to network and taste some of Scotland’s wonderful food and drink, the event aims to accelerate the move towards a critical mass needed to build a food destination. Building on what has been achieved during Year of Food and Drink, delegates will be inspired to put Scotland on the global tourism map building on its reputation as a Land of Food and Drink.
Amongst the international speakers is Rebecca LeHeup, Executive Director of Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA), a not-for-profit organisation connecting people across agriculture and tourism industries. She has been instrumental in developing tourism products including Prince Edward County’s award winning Taste Trail and OCTA’s Feast ON program to name a few.
Anna Allan, head of business events at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Tourism and food and drink are already two of Scotland’s most successful industries and by bringing businesses, agencies and other players together we can help both sectors grow even faster by tapping in to the huge and valuable market for food tourism. The Oban summit will be an opportunity to kick start that process and identify that public and private sectors can work together to realise great opportunity.”
Calum Ross, director of Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative Ltd, said: “Food and drink already accounts for one in every five pounds spent by visitors to Scotland, and that could be even higher if hotels, tour operators and other tourism stakeholders work together with producers to highlight the wealth of excellent food and drink that is on offer and to share our wonderful traditions. By building Scotland’s reputation as a food destination, we can also enhance the value of an already thriving food sector.”
Virginia Sumsion, Marketing and Events Manager at Food from Argyll and one of the organisers of Taste for Tourism, said: “The international food and drink tourism market is worth hundreds of millions of pounds and Scotland already has a share of it, which will undoubtedly rise as a result of the Year of Food and Drink. But we can do even better if we build ourselves into a place not just where great produce is made among beautiful scenery, but somewhere that has the destinations and tourist attractions to bring in visitors whose primary purpose is to enjoy food and drink and the heritage surrounding it.”
Riddell Graham, VisitScotland Director of Partnerships, said: “Food and drink is an integral part of the tourism experience with visitors spending almost a fifth of their budget on eating and drinking. The Year of Food and Drink aims to raise awareness of Scotland’s authentic dining experiences and entice Scots and visitor to Scotland to explore the country’s outstanding natural larder.
"Events like Taste for Tourism help unite the tourism and food and drink sector, allowing the two industries to develop ways to capitalise on the increased interest in Scotland’s culinary delights and build on the momentum generated in 2015.”
Tickets are available now at an early bird rate of £150 for the full conference and dinner, with optional behind the scenes “flavour” tours also available for an additional £50. There will be an exciting range of accommodation and transport options offered in the local area.
For more information on Taste for Tourism, and to book tickets for the event, visit the website www.tastefortourism.scot