Basque-ing in glory

Press release   •   Jun 18, 2015 09:47 BST

With food and drink tourism worth an estimated £2.5m per day to the country’s economy, Scotland’s culinary prowess has captured the attention of one of Europe’s top gastronomy destinations.

As part of the Year of Food and Drink, VisitScotland, along with a number of industry representatives, will be amongst the key speakers at an international gastronomic tourism forum in San Sebastian, starting today (18-19 June).

The event - which has been organised by BasqueTour, the official tourism organisation of the Basque Country in Spain - allows tourism experts from both Scotland and the Basque Country to share experiences, expertise and ideas when it comes to developing and promoting food tourism.

Scotland’s participation is part of an ongoing drive by VisitScotland to take Scotland to the world, sharing best practices, learning new skills and showcasing the country’s renowned tourism offering to organisations and markets across the globe.

Food is an integral part of the tourism experience with sampling local produce among the top activities enjoyed by visitors to Scotland.

As well as being recognised for quality food and drink, the nation’s reputation for authentic and unique dining experiences is growing. Scotland is currently home to 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, while whisky distilleries are amongst the most popular attractions in the UK. The creation of dedicated food and drink trails has also made it even easier for visitors to sample popular Scottish products such as whisky, seafood and artisan chocolate.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to be presenting alongside Scottish businesses. It’s always a compliment when another country is impressed by what they see happening in Scottish tourism and approaches us to find out more. Events such as this are very much of mutual benefit, allowing our industry to showcase its strengths and positive ways of working, but also allowing those within Scotland’s thriving tourism industry to learn and share experiences from those working in other tourism markets. 

“Food and drink is an important part of a trip to Scotland with visitors spending over a fifth of their holiday budget on eating and drinking. The Year of Food and Drink is designed to raise awareness of the fantastic fresh fare and unique dining experiences that make a trip to Scotland so memorable.

“2015 is the year we use strengths and assets, like our rich natural larder, to take Scotland to the world.”

Alongside VisitScotland, other Scottish speakers at the forum include Patrick Hughes of Scotland’s Rural College, Shirley Spear, founder and co-owner of The Three Chimneys, Suzanne O’Connor, Executive Chef at Contini Family Restaurants, John Henderson of Born in the Borders.

John Henderson, of Born in the Borders, said: “This event is a great opportunity to share our experience as a producer with others within the tourism sector. Provenance is becoming an increasingly important part of the visitor journey. Visitors are looking for authentic dining experiences, it’s not just about great food and drink anymore, it’s the story behind that produce and the sense of place it portrays. This is something we have tried to replicate through Born in the Borders using our story as an agricultural business with a need to diversify as the key ingredient in our product. Fortunately, our recent success and ability to grow the business shows that there is clearly an appetite out there for such an experience.”

Having worked as a chef for several years, Suzanne O’Connor said it’s a great opportunity to learn from others.

Suzanne  O’Connor Executive Chef at Contini Family Restaurants, added: “I’m very much looking forward to meeting and speaking with attendees at this forum. As well as sharing my experience, it provides a chance for me and the other Scottish businesses to learn how other destinations are using their food and drink offering to attract visitors and grow their business. For Continis, this is important if we are to continue our efforts to use the very best independent Scottish artisan produce to create the truly memorable dining experiences our visitors expect.”

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For further information contact:

Louise PurvesCorporate Press OfficerTel: 0131 472 2052

Out of hours media enquiries: 07699   766986

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation has three key roles:
    1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
    2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
    3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the tourism economy contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to

Year of Food and Drink 2015

  • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
  • Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
  • A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
  • For more information, visit