Food tourism seminar for Ballina

Gerry Luskin (Luskin’s Bistro), Anthony Heffernan (Heffernan’s Fine Food), Mags Downey-Martin (Ballina Chamber and Tourist Office), Anne-Marie Flynn (MayoNorth.ie), DJ Kellett and Áine Bell (Enniscoe Organic Garden), and Michael Carr (Michael Carr Foods) at the launch of the Mayo North food seminar which will take place in Ballina next month. Photo: Henry Wills

Gerry Luskin (Luskin’s Bistro), Anthony Heffernan (Heffernan’s Fine Food), Mags Downey-Martin (Ballina Chamber and Tourist Office), Anne-Marie Flynn (MayoNorth.ie), DJ Kellett and Áine Bell (Enniscoe Organic Garden), and Michael Carr (Michael Carr Foods) at the launch of the Mayo North food seminar which will take place in Ballina next month. Photo: Henry Wills

MayoNorth.ie and Ballina Chamber are hosting a food tourism seminar in the Great National Hotel Ballina, on Tuesday March 28 at 9.30am, and are inviting all types of food businesses in Mayo and west Sligo to attend. The seminar and networking event, proudly supported by Michael Carr Foods, Ballina Chamber, Bunzl McLaughlin and the Great National Hotel Ballina is part of a drive to highlight and develop the food offering locally, and to emphasise the significant value to the hospitality and food industries of food tourism, and the importance of using local ingredients to convey a sense of “place on a plate”, by offering fresh, locally sourced, seasonal food. Recent research conducted on behalf of Failte Ireland showed that holidaymakers in Ireland spend close to €2 billion annually on food and drink during their stay.

The Mayo North Food Tourism Seminar takes place in the refurbished Nephin Suite in the Great National Hotel, Ballina, and exhibition space is available for artisan producers from Mayo and Sligo and surrounding areas. Everyone working in the food industry in Mayo – chefs, restaurant and café managers, food retailers – are encouraged to attend and meet with local suppliers.

Trends emerging in food tourism particularly relevant to Ireland include things like the rise of craft beer and spirits, “clean eating”, alternatives flours, methods of preservation like fermentation and smoking, and the strong desire of visitors to get ‘up close and personal’ with their food. The latter may take the form of enjoying unique food experiences directly with local farmers, artisan producers, supper clubs, home cooks, craft brewers, or local foodies who are happy to share their local knowledge.

Looking forward to the event, Shane Raftery, food tourism with Fáilte Ireland stressed the importance of food in the overall tourism offering and the role that it plays in the visitor experience. “It’s clear that Ireland has a lot to offer when it comes to food - with quality produce on the ground and many great experiences on offer for visitors when they come here," he said. "Fáilte Ireland is working with businesses across the country to support the development food tourism and ensure that visitors have a unique and memorable experience.”

Anne-Marie Flynn of MayoNorth.ie said: “We know that food is a huge part of the tourist experience and that our visitors really want to get a sense of “place on a plate” and a sense of where their food comes from. We’re looking forward to learning from Olivia, Anthony and Shane how local businesses can benefit from this great opportunity and further developing and highlighting our food offering in Mayo.”

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