New South of Scotland Food and Tourism Leadership Group Launched

Representatives from the tourism and food & drink sectors in Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders have held an inaugural meeting to establish a new South of Scotland Food and Tourism Leadership Group.


Initiated by industry organisations Visit South West Scotland, DG Food and Drink, Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership and Scottish Borders Food and Drink Network, and enabled with support from VisitScotland, the meeting established an agreement to work collaboratively on a shared vision to maximise the emerging opportunities within these two industries across the south of Scotland.


The first meeting, which was held in Moffat, was facilitated by tourism destination development expert Carron Tobin who has supported regions across Scotland in unlocking tourism and place based development potential.  Carron welcomed the establishment of the group, commenting:

“We know from past experience that destination development works best when the businesses working within an area are empowered to determine their own needs.  For rural areas in particular it is important that the voice of local businesses and communities is heard before deciding what the marketing narrative or place based brand should be. 
“This meeting is an exciting development in the south of Scotland becoming empowered to determine how the area should be marketed.  The collaboration between both the tourism and the food and drink industries in this meeting was an innovative approach, reflecting how these important sectors are intertwined across the south of Scotland economy.  The four organisations who initiated this meeting should be congratulated for recognising their common opportunity, for quickly reaching a consensus on what needs to happen next and starting to work together for the benefit of the south of Scotland.”


Ian McAndrew, Chair of Visit South West Scotland, said:

“The coming changes to business support and economic development across the south of Scotland mean that it’s time for businesses to work together to provide clarity on what we want from our public agencies.  Over the years our industries and our areas have faced some major challenges but we must now look to the opportunities that lie ahead and make sure that the voice of our industry is heard.  That voice will be stronger if we work together and are consistent in what we are asking of the public sector. 
“Having been involved with previous destination development initiatives I am very aware of the challenges ahead, but we have an opportunity here that must be seized.  I’m delighted to be working collaboratively with my colleagues from the Scottish Borders and I look forward to pooling our knowledge, our experiences and our vision for the benefit of our industries and our communities.”


John Henderson, Vice Chair of Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership, Chair of Scottish Borders Food and Drink Network and owner of Born in the Borders in Jedburgh, said:

We had an open and frank discussion last week that drilled down into the structure and make-up of our respective industries in both the Borders and D&G, and explored in some depth the shared opportunity.  Running a business that straddles both the food & drink and tourism sectors means I can see very clearly the potential that could be unlocked if we develop these two sectors in tandem. 
“We have discussed the potential of creating this cross-sector, cross-region leadership for some time now so I’m delighted to see it come to fruition.  The commitment to deliver on an ambitious vision for our regions and the real desire to grasp the opportunities that could lie ahead was exciting indeed.  Now is the time for our areas and our industries to come together to position the south of Scotland as an appealing destination and a successful place in which to do business.”


Paula Ward, Region Leadership Director for the south of Scotland, welcomed the meeting and said:

We know that South Scotland has an incredible larder, a stunning location, exceptional quality of visitor experience and I am delighted to have been able to support the industries’ ambition to meet for the first time and start the journey of working together.
“The economic growth potential within tourism and the food and drink sector are intrinsically linked and the creation of the new South of Scotland Economic Agency offers a once in a generation opportunity to shape the way we approach growth in this part of Scotland. To realise our potential we need strong industry led by inspiring leaders and this feels like the journey has now started.”


The group will now compile a shared response to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on a new Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland and will begin working on an outline of activity. 


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