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Scottish food tourism mentoring programme inspires the seafood sector

Islander Shellfish

SEAFOOD Scotland and VisitScotland’s mentoring programme to inspire and cultivate the growth of seafood tourism in Scotland has proven to be a success with a host of seafood businesses from across the country taking part. 

The series of webinars, created as part of the ‘Beyond the Boat’ initiative launched by Seafood Scotland earlier this year, comprised six weeks of informative sessions, alongside additional mentoring from experts in areas such as funding, compliance, tourism insights, digital marketing and events, to help businesses diversify into tourism.

Seafood Scotland partnered with VisitScotland on the project, with the national tourism organisation providing mentors and speakers, and contacts for already successful tourism businesses. The aim of each session was to provide advice and expertise to help seafood businesses create memorable and authentic food tourism experiences to attract visitors from the UK and internationally.

Over 20 businesses across Scotland signed up to the pilot programme, with many able to get bespoke advice from the mentors during the webinar programme. For those that weren’t able to attend, and others that may be interested in finding out more, Seafood Scotland has made the presentations available on its website

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Karen Galloway, Head of Industry Engagement for Seafood Scotland, said: “It has been fantastic to see so many businesses get involved with this programme over the last few weeks and hear about their ideas to diversify into food tourism ventures. We’re incredibly grateful to VisitScotland and the rest of our mentors for their advice on how to deal with the different aspects of tourism from quality assurance, to how to get your story across, to how to maximise your digital presence online.”

“The feedback we’ve received from the seafood businesses attending has been extremely positive. Quite a few of them are already in touch directly with the mentors and working up plans for the next stage of their business.” 

“This is just the start, we’ll be bringing the mentors and seafood businesses together in the autumn for an in-person session to help inform, inspire and engage businesses further and, we hope, help build a community of seafood tourism offerings around the country.”

More than 20 businesses have participated in the programme to date, with a number of businesses rethinking how to market their seafood tourism business by considering using intermediaries to gain customers rather than target potential consumers directly.

One of the businesses which learned a lot from the experience is John Farley from Sutherland’s of Portsoy who said: “‘As the company is situated in what can only be classed as an idyllic coastal setting, it seemed logical we looked to tourism as another channel for generating sales and brand awareness. Whilst the traditional two-day boat festival held in Portsoy brings in an estimated 20,000 visitors, we want to attract visitors from further afield, and saw ‘Beyond the Boat’ as the perfect mentoring programme to help with this vision. 

“The programme was beautifully balanced with both informative content and a degree of mentoring covering the entire tourism concept. The organisers are to be congratulated with the careful choice of supporting speakers who added so much value to an already excellent well-presented and delivered programme.”

Launched in January this year, the Beyond the Boat innovation programme is aimed at stimulating seafood initiatives and spreading risk for businesses by diversifying into new and emerging sectors. The programme is provided to businesses free of charge and it is hoped those taking part will provide real-life exemplars of businesses embarking on a seafood tourism journey for the wider seafood community in Scotland.

The businesses involved in the Beyond the Boat programme stretch the length and breadth of the country, from Tarbert to Dunbar and Plockton to Shetland with a variety of water-based, land-based and food sale offerings. Seafood Scotland has put the programme of sessions together based on feedback from these companies on what would be the most useful information for them to have to move forward with their business.

To find out more about the programme and watch the webinar series:

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