Tourism Northern Ireland has announced that 2016 will be the Year of Food and has promised an action-packed menu of tasty treats for visitors from the Republic of Ireland to look forward to.
The announcement was made by Northern Ireland’s Tourism Minister Arlene Foster at Tourism NI’s annual conference which was attended by over 200 delegates. Focusing on the theme of Northern Ireland the Movie, the conference featured a series of expert speakers including local actor James Nesbitt, who recently starred in the critically acclaimed drama series The Missing and Sir Richard Lewis, one of the world’s foremost cross-cultural experts.
Tourism NI’s market manager (ROI ) Fiona Cunningham said: “Food tourism currently generates over £350m per year to the local economy and in 2016 we are looking forward to growing this further with the Year of Food. Through this new initiative we will showcase the wonderful food we have on offer as we continue to raise the profile of our talented chefs, restaurants, skilled cookery schools and local produce.
“Northern Ireland has a rich food heritage and we have lots to tantalise visitors’ taste buds including some of the best food and restaurants in the world and it is no surprise that our chefs and restaurants continue to gain accolades such as Michelin Bib Gourmands and international renown from food critics and media.
“Our local food producers also continue to shine on the world stage with no less than three of our indigenous foods now holding EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI ) status - Comber Early Potatoes, Armagh Bramley Apples and Lough Neagh Eels. In addition to this, local food producers also gained an amazing 371 gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2014 demonstrating the strength of our local produce which has made a huge impact on the food experience our visitors can expect in restaurants, hotels, visitor attractions, pubs, and cookery schools,” Fiona continued.
“In the lead-up to and during 2016, there will be lots of events and festivals taking place, so Northern Ireland is the perfect destination for food lovers to visit next year,” Fiona added.
For further information on food in Northern Ireland, go to www.discovernorthernireland.com/food or Callsave 1850 230 230.