Tourism NI is responsible for the development of tourism and the marketing of Northern Ireland as a tourist destination to visitors within Northern Ireland and from the Republic of Ireland.
On a 160-year-old family farm in Ardress in County Armagh, a fifth generation grower is proving ‘the apple never falls far from the tree’ with a cider making business hewn from the family’s fruit growing heritage.
Greg MacNeice of Mac Ivor’s Cider launched his craft cider company five years ago after a decade with the family business, MacNeice Fruit cannery and processing. Influenced also by his mother’s French heritage, Greg launched with two core products, a medium and traditional dry made mainly from the company’s own orchards. Now with a fruit cider ready for launch as well as plans for the US and European markets, the company has firmly established itself in the Irish craft cider market. However, the seed of the idea remains firmly rooted in family legacies, not just paternal and maternal but down the generations.
“My dad Sam and his brother Joe established a cannery for Armagh Bramley apples in 1969 and we’ve been growing on an acreage of over 100 and processing Bramleys ever since,” explained Greg.
Belfast’s creativity and energy took centre stage last week within the remodelled Belfast Waterfront as Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, unveiled the city’s new world-class conference facility.
The official launch last Friday (29 April), featuring a creative showcase of young talent performing in front of over 200 invited guests, came just ahead of this week’s NI Chamber of Commerce dinner, which will be the first business event at the newly transformed riverside venue. This will be followed by the first major conference, the annual International Surgical Congress of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, which will take place between 11 and 13 May
It is expected the £29.5 million investment by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, will bring in £100 million for the local economy over the next five years.
Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen along with tourism professionals from Food NI, Visit Belfast and Newry, Mourne and Down Council recently attended a new tour to sample the food, drink and tourism offerings in the County Down area.
Tracey Jeffery of NI Food Tours showcased hidden gems on the Strangford and Mourne Food Tour which included soda bread making and a visit to the award winning artisan producer Kilmegan Cider.
‘Food for Thought’ was the order of the day at the second Tourism Trade Event hosted by the Tourism and Recreation Team of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council on Wednesday. With April ‘Brewing and Distilling month in Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016 calendar there was no better place to hold the event, than in the oldest licensed distillery in the world at Old Bushmills Distillery, which is also one of the most important visitor attractions in the area.
Food and drink has become increasingly important to tourism as they offer destinations an opportunity to differentiate and celebrate indigenous foods. In recognition of this the audience was treated to insights from some of the success stories in the Causeway Coast and Glens including Donal Doherty from Harry’s Shack in Portstewart while eminent food writer, Trish Desine spoke with passion about how ‘a plate of food can tell a great story going back years.’
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