Tuesday 16 July 2019

High quality of food & drink industry 'has potential' to attract more tourists here

Over fifty businesses and individuals from Sligo attended Fáilte Ireland's 'Taste the Island workshop' in the Radisson Blu Hotel Sligo last week. This is part of a series of workshops taking place across Ireland over the next number of weeks to develop a strong programme of food and drink experiences that can be included in the Taste the Island initiative.

The workshops have been organised by Fáilte Ireland for the industry to learn more and provide them with the opportunity to shape the development of a programme.

Globally, Ireland is known as a nation with a vibrant culture with green fields and pristine waters together with a mild wet climate which gives us bountiful, sustainable and high-quality food produce. To enhance this reputation and to secure a greater reputation for Ireland in 2020 and beyond, a new all-island initiative - 'Taste the Island - a celebration of Ireland's food and drink' has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, in collaboration with Tourism Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and a range of stakeholders.

The new initiative, Taste the Island, will showcase Ireland's world-class food and drink culture across the island of Ireland from September to November by providing visitors with access to authentic food and drink experiences, high quality local ingredients and world class Irish food and drink produce.

In 2018 food and drink consumption accounted for around €2.6bn, or 35% of visitor spend and this expensive programme will seek to create an awareness and renewed appreciation at home and abroad of the strength and richness of Ireland's food culture today.

Tracey Coughlan, Fáilte Ireland's Food Tourism - Strategy and Programmes Manager, said: "The range and quality of food and drink businesses and experiences from Sligo that we met at the workshop here in the Radisson Blu Hotel Sligo today are really world class and have the potential to drive a lot more tourists to this area.

"We know that there is scope for growth around food and drink for tourists and aligned with our world-famous seascapes and landscapes, we have an incredibly strong offering to motivate tourists to visit here.

"Taste the Island is designed to showcase Ireland's fantastic food and drink across September, October and November and I look forward to seeing some really strong ideas coming out of today's workshop. What's really important now is that people submit their proposals outlining what they are going to do for Taste the Island for what's shaping up to be chock full season of food festivals and events all showcasing our world class produce."

Seamus Preston, General Manager, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo, said: "We are incredibly excited to learn of Fáilte Ireland's 'Taste the Island' Initiative, which will be launched this September. Over the past number of years Sligo has become one of the leading foodie destinations in the North West of Ireland and this initiative will be a fantastic support and opportunity to showcase our world-class food and drink experiences to domestic and international visitors to the region."

Ms Coughlan continued: "This initiative supports Fáilte Ireland's strategic imperative to address seasonality and grow revenue by driving increasing bed nights outside of the summer season while also driving visitors to explore lesser-known locations across the country and will, in the long term, enhance Ireland's international food and drink reputation before they get here."

A new Toolkit guide has been made available online on how the industry can deliver and maximise the opportunities in food and drink tourism, including a step by step guide for their business built around these 5 pillars:

Taste - pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels- everywhere you can taste fantastic food and drink.

Meet the maker - passionate and innovative food producers.

Make it yourself - wonderful interactive food experiences, cookery schools and educational facilities.

Trail/Networks - over 30 trails or clusters of businesses working together to enhance the visitor's food and drink experience all over the country

Festivals and Events - A programme full of festivals and events is currently being put together throughout the Taste the Island from September to November 2019.

Sligo Champion