Leading Scottish tourism businesses and event organisers have seen an increase in turnover and sales per visitor thanks to the new Experiencing Scotland project.
Experiencing Scotland, which is funded and delivered by Scottish Enterprise, was developed in October 2010 to encourage tourism businesses to work in partnership with food and drink producers to get more local produce onto their menus.
Since its launch, the project has worked with 25 high profile companies, which collectively receive over 13 million visitors each year, including T in the Park, Glasgow Science Centre and the National Trust for Scotland, to carry out an in-depth review of each business and put in place an action plan and strategy to help promote Scottish produce, leading to increased sales opportunities.
Scottish Enterprise project manager, Nicola Watt, said: “In 2009, we undertook research which highlighted businesses and events providing locally sourced Scottish food enhance their visitors’ experience and typically enjoy higher levels of sales. It also found that visitors prefer to buy food and drink with local provenance, that is ‘food with a story behind it’ of where, when, how and by whom it was produced.
“With increasing demand from visitors to sample local, distinctive food, tourism businesses and event organisers have a great opportunity to increase customer satisfaction, enhance their profile and improve their bottom line simply by offering good quality, authentic, Scottish produce.
”Through the project, companies can access tailored business advice such as an induction to business tools and support networks; a review of menu offer, service delivery, purchasing, marketing, staff skills and financial performance; a bespoke business action plan and referrals to suppliers.”
The National Trust for Scotland, which operates cafés, tearooms and restaurants at over 20 of its properties across the country, has seen an improvement in its sales, while Glasgow Science Centre reports a 10% increase in revenue from its retail food and drink operation.
The National Trust for Scotland’s national catering development manager, Sue McCracken, said: “As a conservation charity, our core purpose is to protect and promote Scotland’s rich cultural and natural heritage for present and future generations. Our catering operations therefore need to generate sustainable income growth to finance the vital work of our gardens, buildings, collections’ care and countryside teams.
“The one-to-one advice offered by Scottish Enterprise’s Experiencing Scotland project has enabled us to devise a series of targeted and practical action plans which are already helping our food and drink offer to become a more valuable part of the Trust’s overall operation. It was an extremely worthwhile exercise which is generating real results for us”.
Experiencing Scotland has also shared practical tips and best practice case studies with over 400 event organisers, tourism industry groups and contract caterers throughout the country to promote wider understanding of the business case for showcasing the outstanding produce available locally.
In addition it has been instrumental in helping to create new business opportunities for Scottish food and drink producers keen to access premium tourism markets, with companies such as Thistly Cross Cider in East Lothian, Overlangshaw Ice Cream in the Scottish Borders, Anstruther Cheese Company in Fife and Thomson of Blairgowrie Fruits in Perthshire, all benefiting from new trading relationships.
Nicola continues: “This two year project is already making a substantial difference to both tourism businesses and food and drink producers, and by the end of next year we anticipate the overall expected benefits to be around £2 million to Scotland’s economy through improved sales margins driven by Scottish positioning.”
Category: Industry news