Scotland’s farming union has urged those behind a new plan to double the value of Scottish food tourism by 2030 to highlight the sector’s link with primary production.

The industry-led Food Tourism Scotland Action Plan, launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, sets out a range of actions to maximise the potential of two of Scotland’s most successful sectors – tourism and food and drink.

Visitors to Scotland already spend around £1 billion a year on food and drink. However, the action plan aims to unlock the growth potential and secure an extra £1 billion spend on local produce.

Measures in the plan include:

  • The creation of a food tourism apprenticeship programme;
  • Supporting the top 100 visitor attractions to achieve ‘Taste Our Best’, the quality assurance accreditation scheme promoting local sourcing;
  • Improved marketing for food and drink tourism;
  • Creating the next generation of agri-tourism monitor farms to stimulate diversification;
  • A further programme of Showcasing Scotland events – bringing regional buyers and suppliers together.

Making the announcement on the eve of National Food and Drink Fortnight, the First Minister said: “Many great things are already happening.

“Here in Arran, I’ve seen how quality local produce can attract visitors and enhance their experience of Scotland. Now is the time for everyone to work together to make sure that we can make the most of everything this growing sector has to offer.”

Maximise the links with primary production

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland president Andrew McCornick added: “Scottish agricultural has a rich story to tell. Our farmers and crofters operate to the highest of quality standards to produce some of the finest food products across the globe and we want all visitors to Scotland to experience this fantastic food and drink.

This action plan must highlight and maximise the links between Scotland’s primary agricultural production and the living landscapes that make Scotland such an appealing destination, as well as providing further opportunities to ensure that our fine produce is readily available to visitors.

“Agricultural land use dominates Scotland’s landscape, and it has shaped it for countless generations – postcards rarely contain scenes without livestock or the obvious endeavours of farmers and crofters.

“What we need is more joined-up thinking between tourist spots and the food that is on offer, celebrating its rich heritage and allowing people to see first-hand how it is produced whilst allowing visitors a truly unique experience.

“This food tourism strategy sets out actions that will help us deliver the ambition of ensuring that all visitors to Scotland talk about the wonderful food and drink that we produce in Scotland.

“The success of this strategy would be clear recognition and understanding of the link between Scotland’s fantastic fayre and it’s fantastic farmers and crofters who work so hard, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to put food onto our plates.”