Leader comment: Scotland can be a foodie paradise

Nicola Sturgeon launches drive to persuade tourists to come to Scotland because of its food.

Nicola Sturgeon hopes to lure tourists to Scotland with the quality of its food (Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty)
Nicola Sturgeon hopes to lure tourists to Scotland with the quality of its food (Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty)

Scallops and langoustines, raspberries, haggis, Aberdeen Angus beef, Scotch lamb, Ayrshire new potatoes, fish and chips, and, yes, even the deep fried Mars bar – Scotland is famous (and in some respects, notorious, at least in nutritionist circles) for its food.

And this country is also blessed by the kind of interest from the world’s tourists that many other nations can only dream about, thanks to its enthralling history and spectacular scenery.

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However, what Scotland is not famous for is the strength of its economy.

While it is part of one of the richest nation states in the world – a fact that we sometimes seem to forget and which for those living in poverty may seem scarcely credible – its growth rate has been lacklustre at best in recent years and it is still heavily reliant on North Sea oil, as this month’s GERS report demonstrated.

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Sturgeon launches plan to reap £1 billion benefit of food tourism

Nicola Sturgeon and industry leaders yesterday announced plans to promote two of our success stories – food and tourism – in one campaign, with the goal of doubling the £1 billion that visitors spend annually on food and drink by 2030.

It is an ambitious target, and one that risks being dismissed as nothing more than overly optimistic rhetoric – a pledge that can be conveniently forgotten long before the target date arrives. But it is part of the First Minister’s job to talk Scotland up and to seek to inspire and push others to do more than they might otherwise have achieved.

So talking a good game is at least a step in the right direction.

The Scottish Government has no magic wand to transform the economy and businesses often become successful regardless of – or even despite – the actions of elected politicians.

What ministers have to do is find ways to create the right conditions for entrepreneurs and wealth creators to thrive, while balancing the need to raise money through taxes to fund the public services we all need – ensuring we have an educated, healthy and happy workforce is definitely part of the picture.

Another part is the promotion of Scotland to the rest of the world. In theory, that is a good way to spend money raised from the business taxes of countless small companies that cannot afford overseas ad campaigns.

Whether that theory can become reality is another matter. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding.