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Evaluation of the ‘Experiencing Scotland - supplying a quality food and drink offer’ project
The Experience Scotland (ES) project was launched to support tourism companies to provide and promote the high quality food and drink produce Scotland offers, thereby improving the food experience for visitors to Scotland. The scope of this study covered the delivery of the ES project over the period December 2012 to February 2016. The objectives set by Scottish Enterprise (SE) for the study included assessments of: achievements against project objectives and targets; the extent to which the original market failure rationale has been justified and addressed; actual (to date) and anticipated economic impact arising from the project; any other benefits, tangible or intangible, that were gained by participants; value for money achieved by SE’s investment; efficacy of what has been delivered by the project; what more, if anything, could have been done to help participants realise benefits; and any learning for future developments.
The study involved four main research methods: desk-based assessment of background documents and monitoring records; online survey of project beneficiaries; telephone interviews with beneficiaries; and face-to-face or telephone consultations with stakeholders and SE’s project delivery contractors.
The study found that the ES project had been well received by the beneficiaries plus the views of stakeholders give an overall positive endorsement of the project and its achievements. The project engaged with most of the large food service companies originally targeted and was successful in engaging with other large and medium sized leisure contractors in the sector. Businesses reported a high level of satisfaction with the activities and outputs for workshops and 1-2-1 support. There was a strong sense that as a result of participation in the ES project, the majority of respondents are better informed and more interested and capable of exploiting Scottish produce in their offer to visitors. The majority of respondents also forecast the purchase of more Scottish produce in future. Following participation in the project, 20 firms have reported forming new business relationships: overall these have involved around 67 suppliers. The original rationale for intervention was based on a lack of information or knowledge about sources of Scottish produce available and about how to access and exploit them. The study found that support provided by the ES project has helped firms to address these issues. In terms of economic impact, the net additional GVA lies between £961k and £1,105k, aggregated over seven years to 2018/19. On the assessment of value for money, the GVA impact ratio is in the range of 5.19 to 6.03, pointing to the intervention delivering moderate to good value.
The following recommendations were offered: any future interventions should be part of a suite of support, subject to strategic alignment/priorities and evidence of business need and demand; and the potential for a more innovative, digital approach (and online presence) to the engagement of sector stakeholders and businesses on the demand and supply sides of these markets in Scotland should be assessed. The positive views of stakeholders on the degree of collaboration and strategic alignment should not be allowed to overlook the practical challenges around establishing an effective, joined-up approach to referring businesses to relevant, useful interventions.