Scottish food revolution boosting demand for hotel rooms north of the border
When it comes to Scottish cuisine, the lazy stereotypes are almost as old as the country's castles; deep-fried mars bars, chips, and beer or whisky with everything often being the first thing to spring to people's minds upon hearing the phrase.
In fact, the good food on offer in Scotland has now become the reason why foreign tourists book rooms in Edinburgh hotels or elsewhere in the country, the findings of a new study suggest.
Indeed, of those foreigners polled in a new study carried out by VisitBritain, 89 per cent listed dining out as a key activity of a holiday in Scotland, compared to the 83 per cent who named this as a must-do activity in London.
Though this may well be surprising to some casual observers, to anyone with an ounce of knowledge of modern cuisine and the vibrant, cosmopolitan cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in general, it is completely understandable.
After all, Scotland now boasts 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, located both within the two major cities and also amid the stunning countryside - the Albert Roux venue in the Highlands, for example.
Meanwhile, many more places, including hotels in Glasgow and other parts of the country, are slowly waking up to the fact that investing in good food is a sure-fire way of ensuring visitors return year after year.
Commenting, Scottish Tourism Forum director William Macleod told the Herald newspaper: "Not only do we have the Michelin-starred chefs of this world, we also have good cooks and chefs in our pubs and everyday restaurants."
Expanding on this, he added that, far from merely being down-and-out drinking dens of the kind that wouldn't feel out of place in a Rebus novel, many pubs are now looking to their menus to draw in customers, having been hit hard by the recently-introduced smoking ban.
And, considering that enjoying a night in the pub and conversing with the locals were ranked as the number two and three things to do in Scotland by overseas tourists, such a policy is likely to prove wise as it increases interest in the country further still over the next few years.
Meanwhile, the VisitBritain study also revealed that, as well as dining out, guests staying in London hotels are more keen to enjoy the shopping on offer in the city than they are to take in a show in the West End, while the castles in the south of the country are drawing more visitors to Wales than international football and rugby matches and major musical events combined.