Tourism businesses in Dumfries and Galloway are being encouraged by Scotland’s national tourism organisation to include and promote Scottish produce in a new joint initiative launched by VisitScotland and the Scottish government.
The Taste Our Best food and drink scheme has been launched to give consumers a Scottish experience when dining out in the region.
Funded by the Scottish government (£450,000 over three years) and VisitScotland (£470,000) with support from Scotland Food and Drink, the Taste Our Best initiative brings together the tourism and food and drink industries.
It is designed to recognise businesses including hotels, restaurants, cafes, takeaways, visitor attractions and B&Bs to offer not only a quality food and drink experience but a commitment to using Scottish produce on their menus.
Dumfries and Galloway offers an excellent choice of accommodation and many local businesses are ensuring visitors are offered the best Scottish experience.
Research has shown that visitors are willing to pay up to 15 percent more for food that is of Scottish or regional origin, and businesses that provide local food can typically enjoy higher level sales of up to 20 percent per year. Visitors spend around £800 million per year on food and drink in Scotland and more than 70 percent of potential visitors to Scotland want to taste traditional dishes, regional specialities and fresh local produce.
The Taste Our Best scheme is the latest addition to VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance (QA) schemes, which aim to drive up quality in tourism products across the country. Taste Our Best will provide businesses with an assessment of their food provision and their menu by qualified assessors, with those meeting the necessary criteria gaining the award.
For accommodation providers and visitor attractions, the assessment will take place at the same time as the main VisitScotland Quality Assurance grading, meaning that many tourism businesses that already participate in the QA scheme will no longer have to apply and pay for a separate food and drink assessment.
Taste Our Best has been shaped to take account of consumer preferences and has been developed by representatives from the public and private sectors with particular experience in the tourism and food sectors.
Paula McDonald, regional director of VisitScotland, said: “We know visitors to the region love authentic, quality Scottish food and drink and Taste Our Best is all about taking this knowledge to the next level and really encouraging the local tourism industry to recognise the real benefits of sourcing, using and promoting local produce. We have such a rich natural larder here in Dumfries and Galloway.
“As Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014, there is no better time to launch this scheme to ensure the many visitors that come to our shores for Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup next year all leave with full, happy stomachs and memorable eating experiences.”
Taste Our Best will have a strong advisory element, including advice on best practice and signposting to producers and suppliers to encourage change.
Businesses looking for more information on Taste Our Best Food & Drink Scheme can log onto http://www.visitscotland.org/business_support/quality_assurance/restaurants.aspx