VISITORS to Scotland have been showing a taste for typical produce like shortbread and haggis, with four in ten of them buying food or drink to take home, figures have shown.
The VisitBritain study found that overseas visitors are more likely to purchase food and drink in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, with 40 per cent doing so last year, ahead of the north-east of England, which came in second place with 32 per cent.
Staff from VisitScotland information centres reported that the most popular food and drink items for overseas tourists currently include whisky (including whisky fudge), Edinburgh rock, shortbread, tablet, Irn-Bru, Scottish honey, jam and marmalade, Stornoway black pudding and tinned haggis.
The study, conducted in association with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also found that Scotland is the most popular for memento hunters.
Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of overseas visitors purchased holiday souvenirs while in the country - the highest proportion in the UK, with more than four in ten (43 per cent) buying clothes or shoes.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Not only did Scotland outperform London in terms of total spend growth between 2012 and 2013, but this country is also leading the way in the UK for overseas visitors purchasing our wonderful food, drink and high-quality souvenirs.
“From delicious shortbreads and tasty tablet to local crafts, jewellery and of course whisky, wherever visitors are they can find a wide range of delicious local flavours and souvenirs to purchase and take home as a reminder of their visit.”
The findings came from VisitBritain’s Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey which helps them better understand the needs and characteristics of overseas visitors to Britain.
Patricia Yates, director of strategy at VisitBritain, said: “This new research underpins Scotland’s growing potential as an international destination, topping the tables for propensity to buy food or drink and souvenirs across all countries polled.
“International tourists are actually more inclined to buy food or drink in Scotland (40 per cent) than any other part of England and Wales.
“In terms of total spend, Scotland continues to excel, outperforming Britain and London last year with a 20 per cent spike.”
VisitScotland said that food and drink is an integral part of the tourism experience, with the industry worth £13 billion a year. The target is to grow this to £16.5 billion by 2017.
The organisation said that in 2013, British residents taking overnight leisure (or holiday) trips to Scotland spent £391 million on shopping as part of their trip.
For the same year, British residents on tourism day trips in Scotland spent £1 billion on the activity of “special shopping”, or shopping for non-everyday items.