Local Culinary Delights To Be Showcased To The World

The finest selection of local food and drink produce is to be celebrated over the coming months as part of Tourism NI's 'Taste the Island' campaign.

Over 150 experiences feature in the programme for September, October and November that aims to shine a spotlight on the superb culinary experiences available in Northern Ireland.

The latest research indicates visitor expenditure at around £968m, around 30% of £350m of which is spent on food and drink.

'Taste the Island', a three-year initiative developed in partnership between Tourism NI, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, is expected to garner even more growth for local restaurants, cafés and bars.

It follows the highly successful Year of Food and Drink campaign in 2016 which saw an increase in demand for local produce in international markets, and resulted in Northern Ireland being named an award-winning food destination. The region was also awarded the title of the world's Best Food Destination in 2018, an accolade that demonstrates the flourishing industry, according to Tourism NI's Chief Executive John McGrillen.

He said: "Research tells us that our visitors position food and drink as one of the top five factors when choosing a destination and they value local produce highly.

"We have been working with our industry partners to bring our food story to the world. Taste the Island will celebrate the quality, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship within our industry and offer a compelling programme of authentic food and drink experiences to motivate visitors to travel to Northern Ireland."
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Chef and broadcaster Paula McIntyre, who helped launch Taste the Island, commented: "Northern Ireland's food and drink renaissance continues, from our chefs winning international awards to renowned food writers singing the praises of our ingredients and cooking.

"We know that food has an unmatched ability to communicate a unique sense of place and Taste the Island will tap into our imagination, inspiring creativity from industry, leading to exciting new food and drink experiences and events and creating lasting memories for both local and international visitors."

Also highlighting food as a central part of the visitor experience, Fáilte Ireland's Food Tourism Manager Tracey Coughlan said the campaign will demonstrate the high quality local produce to the world- informing visitors of the incredible experiences that await them in Northern Ireland.

Ms Coughlan described the programme of cuisine to be showcased as "exciting and exceptional".

She added: "The industry have come forward in force with creative ideas, huge ambition and passion to show what they can do, and most of all, make sure the visitors get to really Taste the Island!"

Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland's Director of Markets, added: "Food and drink are vital elements of today's holiday experience and our Taste the Island promotions will raise awareness of our rich food culture overseas.

"Tourism Ireland will encourage prospective visitors around the world to come and experience our award-winning local produce, dine in our excellent restaurants, visit our fantastic distilleries and breweries, or perhaps take in a food trail or festival. Our message is that there has never been a more exciting time to come and discover the food scene in Northern Ireland."

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