How can you find the powerful opportunity in food tourism?Mar 29, 2023
If sustainable tourism is about doing less harm and more good for our environment, communities and local economy, regenerative tourism is about the restoration and revival of these areas. There is strong evidence to show the importance food and drink tourism plays in both sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism. Food tourism explores our local history, it nurtures traditions of the past and safeguards stories that have been passed on through generations. Food tourism offers more employment opportunities and invests in local produce, producers and suppliers. It offers new opportunities in agriculture to diversify the traditional farming product. There is so much power in food tourism.
In this week’s Huddle we were joined by Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink. The title of her talk was ‘The Power of Food Tourism - Key Learnings from Scotland’. Fiona has a rich and deep experience in Food Tourism actively promoting and supporting quality food and drink production for more than 18 years and managing various projects across food tourism, regional food development, food service and major events. In this week’s Huddle Fiona gave the group an overview of the work of Scotland Food & Drink and an insight into what has been accomplished in the area of food tourism in Scotland. Below are a few takeaways that I took from the Huddle.
1. People Power first
Scotland Food & Drink started out as a grassroots movement to raise awareness of the food and drink industry. Its inception started from the bottom up and now works simultaneously from the top down. We can say that along with nature, people are at the core of the food tourism product between their skills, their stories and their produce. In learning about the story of Scotland Food & Drink, I noticed the commitment and passion of people for what they love, the desire to create more opportunities for others and to raise the awareness of what is happening in their area or place.
2. Align strategies to raise awareness at a national level
In The Huddle, Fiona mentioned the work of Scotland Food & Drink in bringing people together to facilitate collaborative practices. Through the setting up of the industry food ambassadors, a space has been given for each of them to connect and learn from each other. Creating a space for the regional tourism groups to come together and network offers an opportunity to align regional strategies which raises awareness of the food tourism product at a national level. This way everyone sings from the same hymn sheet and there is a collective voice while further creating opportunities to collaborate.
3. Share your information
Fiona opened her talk mentioning the importance of sharing our information. Collaborative efforts such as these improve the local food economy and support local regions and areas and pave the way for other businesses to develop, further expanding the confidence of business owners in their business and in the industry at large. Fiona also touched on the importance of Learning Journeys, also known as familiarisation trips, and how mutually beneficial they can be for both the host and visitors in expanding our knowledge in tourism development. We couldn’t agree more and have consistently seen the benefits of each trip which you can learn more about here.
4. Share your story
One comment by Fiona covered the tendency we have to feel like others are doing better than we are. It is important to look inwards and highlight all the work you do within your business or industry. Many times we may find ourselves overlooking what we see each day and not visualising how exciting it may be to an outsider. We may also cast a shadow over all the progress that has been made in our industries and destinations. As Fiona expressed, it is important to celebrate our successes, authenticity and identity. This includes our traditional products, landscapes and immigrant culture. This expands confidence and instils pride in our product and in our place. When going through the pillars of Scotland’s Food Tourism Strategy, a strong pillar that stood out was rich storytelling. Through food and drink, there is an opportunity to tell our story, as “every dish has a history and every drink has a past”. Storytelling is a way of celebrating the successes of the past.
5. Invest in your industry leaders
Scotland Food & Drink has invested tremendous work and efforts into the leadership of its network between the regional tourism food groups and the industry food ambassadors. In investing in the industry leaders, they in turn raise awareness of Scotland’s food tourism brand, strengthen connections between communities and producers and establish better ways to work together, something that was highlighted in last month’s Huddle with Ásta Kristin Sigurjonsdottir of the Iceland Tourism Cluster.
The Tourism Space has been delighted to be part of this through delivering and facilitating leadership workshops that focus on areas such as resilience and confidence, sustainability and personal effectiveness.
6. Embrace diversity
Thanks to travel and many global events, our world is getting smaller and we are opening our doors to embrace a plethora of cultures, communities and nationalities. Through globalisation, the evolution of food and expansion of knowledge, the traditional food and drink offering of each nation has diversified.
What is Scotland Food & Drink?
Scotland Food & Drink is an industry leadership organisation that supports the people and products behind the Scottish food and drink industry. Its aim is to facilitate the government and food and beverage industry to work together with a common strategy to raise the profile of food tourism, connect the stakeholders of the industry and nurture them in unlocking their potential and tapping into new opportunities and new markets.
What is The Huddle?
The Huddle is an online tourism community and network for like-minded tourism and hospitality professionals to connect, share and grow. It is free and all are welcome. It is a place to develop professionally and enhance your leadership, collaboration and networking skills and your knowledge on areas such as sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism. Once you register you will gain access to each of the industry guest speaker Huddles. Learn more and register at www.thetourismspace.com/huddle.
The Tourism Space™ is a leading tourism consultancy, training and professional development practice based in the West of Ireland specialising in sustainable tourism, regenerative tourism, food tourism, stakeholder engagement and networks and destination collaborations. To learn more you can get in touch at [email protected] or visit our previous food tourism projects here.
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