Two of the leading figures in Scotland’s food and tourism industries have given strong backing to the first ever St Andrews Food and Drink Festival.

The comments from James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, and Scottish Tourism Alliance chief executive Marc Crothall came as ten days of activity involving over forty events ended in the town.

A collaboration involving Fife Food Network’s “Food from Fife” initiative and Visit St Andrews, the wide ranging programme complemented a packed programme of St Andrews Festival community events.

Food and drink events included cookery demonstrations, tastings, an extended farmers’ market with “pop-up restaurant”, poetry and stovies with StAnza, and special local menus.

In addition a unique masterclass of four of Scotland’s top chefs – from the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa, Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews Links, and Rufflets Country House Hotel –  came together for a celebratory dinner with assistance from aspiring Adam Smith College students.  

Mr Withers expressed delight at seeing the “iconic” destination recognising the potential for Scotland’s fantastic natural produce to enhance the visitor experience.

“We have some of the best food and drink produce in the world and the new Scottish Tourism Alliance strategy recognises the value of this to our tourism sector.

“We want Scotland to be recognised as a Land of Food and Drink, so giving visitors a great culinary experience is so important. The festival puts this into practice

“There are real bottom-line benefits of working in this way – demonstrating the provenance of your food & drink offer can lead to premium prices being achieved.

“The Experiencing Scotland project assists with local sourcing, telling the story of the food and ingredients, and other operational improvements. This has enabled participating businesses to increase their turnover by an average of around 8% so far,” said Mr Withers.

Marc Crothall said that the St Andrews Food & Drink Festival is a great example of Scotland turning fantastic tourism assets into quality, authentic experiences sought by visitors.

“It is really encouraging to see how the Fife Food Network and St Andrews Partnership are working together to turn the new Tourism Scotland 2020 strategy into action – extending the visitor season and encouraging businesses to develop new products to meet consumer demand.

“This is exactly the sort of collaboration the strategy calls for – it clearly demonstrates not only how the customer experience can be enhanced but also promotes natural opportunities and highlights financial benefits to be had by all that work in the tourism and food and drink industries”

The local reaction was equally enthusiastic, and St Andrews Partnership chairman Eric Brown said that the food and drink festival augmented existing St Andrews Festival activities to add new impetus and additional business at the end of November.
“You can see just how much co-operation and mutual synergies are coming into play. St Andrews Partnership is certainly making a difference and working hard on sustainable tourism out of season,” said Mr Brown.

Food from Fife’s Food from Fife’s Viv Collie, one of the festival organisers, said that there had already been tremendous feedback from businesses and organisations.

“We have made many new contacts, encouraged food and tourism businesses to work closely together, and built a very strong foundation for future events.”

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