D&G food and drink industry welcomes launch of new national Food Tourism Action Plan

Dumfries & Galloway’s food and drink industry has welcomed the publication of Scotland’s first Food Tourism Action Plan, with local businesses highlighting the opportunity that food tourism presents for our region. 

The action plan was launched by Scotland’s First Minister earlier this week with the aim of delivering an additional £1 billion to Scotland’s economy by 2030.  The plan sets out a range of actions to maximise the economic potential of food and drink and tourism through activities such as increased marketing, developing local supply chains, industry events and collaboration. 

The prioritisation of food tourism aligns closely with findings of the recent Dumfries & Galloway Food and Drink Business Survey where local businesses identified Food Tourism Development and Collaborative Opportunities as their top areas of interest.

Lorna Young of DG Food and Drink, who carried out the survey to inform the new regional food and drink strategy, said:

“Food and drink tourism is something that Dumfries & Galloway naturally excels at with high profile food and drink based visitor attractions, a vibrant network of food festivals and markets and exciting growth in our region’s hospitality sector.  The results of our D&G business survey shows very clearly that despite our already strong performance in this area, there remains huge potential to make more of food tourism opportunities. 

“Food and drink is the engine of our region’s economy and now more than ever we need to make sure the foundations of our industry are strong and that the potential of our industry is realised. We will incorporate the feedback from local businesses and the recommendations of the national action plan into our new regional food and drink strategy, due to be published later this year.”

Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust who organises Stranraer Oyster Festival which takes place from 14th September said:

“When we were exploring how to create a tourism focal point for Stranraer we immediately recognised that it was our local produce, in particular our native oysters, that had the potential to transform the way people think about our town. 

“Food tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world and Stranraer’s heritage means the town is perfectly placed to capitalise on that growing interest in themed food festivals.  Through the festival we can showcase the stunning beauty of Loch Ryan, our amazing local seafood and the hospitality of the people of Stranraer.  Our food and drink is an obvious way to show our region off to the world.”

Food tourism is also the focus of the new Heart of Galloway Visitor Centre, the community enterprise which took over the former Castle Douglas Visitor Information Centre.  Sarah-Jane Allsop who manages the centre commented:

“As the region’s Food Town we immediately saw the potential in combining visitor information with local food and drink, and it’s been enormously successful so far.  Visitors to our town and our region want local food and drink; they actively seek it out and food tourism is absolutely something we should be capitalising on.”

Deborah Firth of Hillcrest House in Wigtown has used local food and drink to promote her guesthouse for many years, winning numerous awards by doing so.  She welcomed the new action plan and said:

“I make a point of seeking out local food and it’s amazing and surprising what is grown and produced here. For example, last night’s menu included locally grown peaches for dessert, beetroot freshly dug from my neighbour’s garden and stunning local saltmarsh lamb. 

“For visitors to our region the stories we tell about our food and drink, its provenance and the people behind it, helps to create an experience that is unique to our region.  So it’s not just what we serve our guests, it’s about sharing our passion for the flavours of our local area and our unique local larder.”

Linny Oliphant, Visitor Experience Manager of Annandale Distillery said that providing quality distillery tourism experiences was an essential part of the business, she commented:

“Distillery tourism is booming throughout Scotland and creating and delivering consistently excellent tourism experiences has always been at the heart of the rebirth of Annandale Distillery.  This year’s visitor numbers to the distillery has again evidenced the clear demand from international and UK visitors who want depth and authenticity in their experience.  We are keen to be involved with any regional food tourism initiatives as we see huge potential.”

The region’s farmers’ market network is widely recognised as a way to make local food and drink more visible, while also providing an accessible route to market for new producers.  Chair of the region’s farmers’ market association, Sarah Burchell, said:

“There are a number of farmers’ markets in Dumfries & Galloway that have obvious appeal for day trippers from central Scotland and the north of England, in fact many of our regular customers at local farmers’ markets are anything but local to our region! So we have known for a long time that creating enjoyable local food experiences at markets has the potential to encourage visitors into our towns.  In Dumfries, Moffat and Kirkcudbright in particular the markets are going from strength to strength and we are keen to work more collaboratively to unlock their full potential.” 

The plethora of local produce on offer and the popularity of Kirkcudbright Farmers’ Market was one of the reasons for entrepreneur Nick Morris basing his new cookery school in the town, after a search that took him the length and breadth of the UK. Nick welcomed the new national focus on food tourism:

“As a new business and investor in the Dumfries and Galloway food tourism sector I realise its massive potential for this region in terms of supporting existing local food suppliers and producers.  By focussing on food tourism we can grow two of our most important industries in tandem.

“I’m fairly new to this region but since we first arrived here it’s been obvious to me that for too long Dumfries & Galloway has underestimated the quality of its outstanding food and drink.  From passionate artisan producers and local meat, dairy and seafood that is second to none, food tourism is THE big opportunity for our region and its time we worked together to make more of it.” 

The Dumfries and Galloway food and drink strategy is being developed by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Business and Enterprise team and DG Food and Drink with the target of doubling the value of region’s industry to £2.5 billion by 2030.  The regional growth ambition aligns with the national food and drink strategy, ‘Ambition 2030’ which aims to double the value of Scotland’s industry over the next twelve years. 

Autumn food festivals in Dumfries and Galloway include:

  •          Stranraer Oyster Festival 14-16 September 2018
  •          Kirkcudbright Food Festival 27-28 October 2018