28 January 2013
Experts in food from Northern Ireland and Great Britain today cooked up a Masterclass for tourism businesses interested in maximising the potential of their food offering.
Organised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in partnership with NI Good Food, the event focused on the growing potential for local food tourism the associated benefits for visitors, tourism businesses and the economy
The event at the Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch was attended by accommodation providers, café, restaurant and pub owners, as well as visitor attractions, golf clubs and event organisers that feature a food offer as part of their attraction.
Three local food producers, Glenarm Castle Organic Farm, Punjana Tea and potato grower William Orr and Son, explained how their produce relates to Northern Ireland and the authenticity of the visitor food experience.
The key speaker at the Masterclass was the founder and chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association.
Matthew O'Callaghan led a ten-year campaign to protect the pie under European legislation and now runs the UK Protected Food Names Association which has supported a number of applications for protected food name status, including Cumberland Sausages.
Michele Shirlow of NI Good Food and Katy Best, NITB board member, also spoke at the event.
Katy Best said: “Food is an essential part of the visitor experience to Northern Ireland and our food, like our golf, is very much coming to the fore.
"Our local produce, feeding into our restaurant tables, local businesses and food culture, is a fantastic way for tourism to stimulate the Northern Ireland economy.
"We have an abundance of high quality, home-grown produce. Much of our seafood, beef, lamb, dairy produce, fruit and vegetables is ranked among the best in the world.
"We should be rightly proud not only of the myriad of fine food and drink in Northern Ireland, but also our food heritage, which tells a cultural story that positive, unique and totally genuine and shows that food is actually a key ingredient of our identity.
"Sharing that identity with visitors is crucial in this era of experiential tourism."
Out-of-state visitors spend over a third of their money on food and drink and make a large contribution to the food and drink industry in Northern Ireland.
The NITB has been developing and promoting the Northern Ireland food product by building a strong positive working relationship within the industry and through a number of initiatives in partnership with NI Good Food.
Three local foods – Lough Neagh Eels, New Season Comber Potatoes and Armagh Bramley Apples – have gained PGI status from the European Union meaning they are held in similar regard as Parma Ham and Champagne.
Produce from Northern Ireland has also been awarded the title of UK Supreme Champion by The Guild of Fine Foods for two years running.
Tourism Northern Ireland
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