According to the announcement issued today by Seafood Scotland, its mentoring program launched together with VisitScotland as part of the 'Beyond the Boat' initiative to inspire and cultivate the growth of seafood tourism in Scotland has proven to be a success. "The feedback we've received from the seafood businesses attending has been extremely positive", stated Karen Galloway, Head of Industry Engagement for Seafood Scotland. Over 20 businesses across the country signed up for the pilot program.
Galloway was very pleased with the outcome of the series of webinars, created as part of the 'Beyond the Boat' initiative launched by Seafood Scotland earlier this year. "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", she stated.
More than 20 businesses have participated in the program to date. For six weeks they had access to informative sessions, besides additional mentoring from experts in areas such as funding, compliance, tourism insights, digital marketing, and events, to help businesses diversify into tourism. According to Seafood Scotland, at the end of the experience, a number of them are "rethinking how to market their seafood tourism business by considering using intermediaries to gain customers rather than target potential consumers directly".
Created as part of the 'Beyond the Boat' initiative launched by Seafood Scotland earlier this year, after the good reception received, the program will be continued, as announced by Karen Galloway. "This is just the start", she said, "we'll be bringing the mentors and seafood businesses together in the autumn for an in-person session".
The businesses involved in this initiative stretch the length and breadth of Scotland, from Tarbert to Dunbar and Plockton to Shetland with a variety of water-based, land-based and food sale offerings. Therefore, the program of sessions is based on feedback from these companies on what information they would find most useful to advance their business, and, as announced by the Head of Industry Engagement for Seafood Scotland, the response has been positive. This is also clear from statements made by John Farley, from Sutherland's of Portsoy, one of the participating companies: "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".
"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", the company claims. In their case, they have the traditional two-day boat festival that is held in Portsoy and attracts some 20,000 visitors, but they want "to attract visitors from further afield, and saw 'Beyond the Boat' as the perfect mentoring programme to help with this vision".
The 'Beyond the Boat' innovation program is provided to businesses free of charge with the objective of "stimulating seafood initiatives and spreading risk for businesses by diversifying into new and emerging sectors". In return, it is expected that those taking part will provide real-life exemplars of businesses embarking on a seafood tourism journey for the wider seafood community in Scotland.
Set up "by the industry for the industry" in 1999 to increase the value of return to the Scottish seafood sector, Seafood Scotland operates worldwide working together with Government agencies such as Scottish Development International to promote the wealth of Scottish seafood to a global trade market. Dealing with all seafood species, the organization works throughout the supply chain with fishermen, fish/shellfish farmers, processors, retailers, food service companies, caterers, NGOs, and consumers. Focusing on restaurant and catering deals, it targets trade buyers, wholesalers, industry influencers, and chefs in the UK, Europe, the US, the Middle East, and Asia – acting as the conduit between Scottish suppliers and in-country trade markets.