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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tasty opportunity for tourism

Over 180 representatives of tourism in Dumfries & Galloway – annually worth £292 million to the region’s economy – gathered in Dumfries on Tuesday 28 April for this year’s industry conference.

Organised by VisitScotland and Dumfries & Galloway Council, the event at the Cairndale Hotel & Leisure Club provided an opportunity for businesses - ranging from accommodation providers to attractions, tour guides to transport operators and restaurants to retailers - to celebrate the industry and focus on the opportunities presented by the Year of Food & Drink Scotland 2015.

Introducing the conference were VisitScotland Regional Director Paula McDonald and Councillor Colin Smyth, Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee. Delegates then listened to presentations from Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, Stephen Jardine, Scottish media presenter and head of food and drink communications company Taste Communications, Fiona Richmond, Project Manager of Scotland Food and Drink, and Barry Graham of Loch Arthur Creamery and Farm Shop.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said:

“Tourism is at the heart of economic success in Dumfries & Galloway - supporting more than 5,300 jobs, sustaining communities and worth £292 million to the region’s economy - so the Council is committed to supporting the industry and working with it to ensure that Dumfries & Galloway is recognised more widely as a world-class destination where visitors can enjoy a fantastic experience and get a taste of the very best that Scotland has to offer.”

One of the main aims of yesterday’s event was to encourage and inspire businesses throughout the region to capitalise on the Year of Food & Drink and take advantage of the fact that Dumfries & Galloway boasts so many excellent food and drink suppliers.VisitScotland research shows that visitors will pay up to 15% more for traditional dishes and fresh local produce, so Dumfries & Galloway’s regional larder has a huge role to play in growing its economy.

To help and encourage conference attendees to make connections with local food and drink suppliers and appreciate the range of great Dumfries & Galloway produce which is available, the event included a mini-showcase of producers from all over the region.

Taking part and giving attendees a chance to sample their wares were - Barscobe Castle (handmade nut butters), Wigtown’s Galloway Chillies (fine chilli preserves) The Little Bakery (breads and savoury pies), By Heck (traditional jams and preserves), In House – Chocolates By Design (chocolates and truffles), Wee Sweetie Confectionery Creations (flavoured sweets and fudges), Moniaive Chocolate (chocolates), Cream o’ Galloway (ice creams and dairy-free sorbets), The Wee Tea Company (loose leaf teas) and Annandale Distillery (single malt whisky).

VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said:

“I am delighted that so many local Dumfries & Galloway businesses attended this year’s tourism conference and producers’ showcase. This really demonstrates the level of commitment there is within the industry here to build on the region’s already strong tourism offering and capitalise on the Year of Food & Drink 2015. We support this passion through a range of measures such as VisitScotland’s Taste Our Best Quality Assurance Scheme and also a bespoke online food and drink business toolkit – and I would urge local businesses, small and large, to take advantage of these.

“Food and drink is Scotland’s fastest growing sector; the industry is incredibly important to Scottish tourism. Our country boasts some of the finest produce in the world and the Year of Food & Drink gives us a fantastic opportunity to promote our superb natural larder and quality produce - not only to our visitors, but also to our local markets.”