New Failte Ireland food and drink strategy is set to change tourist’s views on Irish cuisine
New Failte Ireland Food and Drink Strategy Aims to Change Overseas Visitor Perceptions
By ilovelimerick correspondent Ciara Maria Hayes
The Irish tourism industry needs to work towards changing the perception amongst overseas visitors to reposition Irish food and drink from being a pleasant surprise to becoming one of the compelling reasons to visit Ireland according to remarks from Paul Keeley, director of commercial development at Fáilte Ireland, at a briefing to tourism and food & drink industry representatives this week on the publication of the tourism body’s new Failte Ireland Food and Drink Strategy 2018 – 2023.
Mr Keeley said that the vast majority of overseas visitors are positively surprised and satisfied by the overall quality of Ireland’s food and drink offering and return home having had a memorable experience during their visit but, prior to coming, their expectations of Irish food and drink are lower.
“Food and drink consumption is an intrinsic part of the tourist experience. Quality experiences are now a major contributor to increasing holiday satisfaction, creating positive memories and driving advocacy. Amongst those deciding on a holiday location, the expectation of good food is nearly as important as hospitality. We undoubtedly have the product and expertise, we have natural produce, fresh ingredients, and great fish and meat but we need to ensure that our food and drink offering gains a global reputation that matches the reality on the ground.”
The new Failte Ireland food and drink strategy seeks, at home, to increase the number of tourism businesses engaged with development initiatives and, overseas, to increase and enhance the awareness and perception of Ireland’s food and drink offering. In 2017, revenue from overseas visitors totaled €6.5 billion with approximately a third – about €2 billion – spent on food and drink. By targeted investment and effective promotion of the quality food and drink experiences available, the report claims that Food could help grow tourism revenue by as much as €400 million over the next 5 years.
The next steps to redefine the appeal of Irish cuisine are outlined in the strategy along four key pillars; improved insights & innovation, strengthening Ireland’s appeal, driving industry capacity and performance and delivering great visitor experiences.
Mr. Keeley added, “to raise our game, we need to develop our capacity and performance within food in tourism businesses so that operators deliver a world-class offering that is consistent and profitable. As part of this, we need to ensure that our visitor attractions use local foods to deliver an offering representative of place, we need to enhance our national menu in areas such as the Irish breakfast, support pubs in bringing authentic experiences to life and assist the tourism industry in tailoring Ireland’s local food story.”
Food and drink experiences play a substantial part in helping to generate and sustain economic opportunity and development by increasing visitor numbers, dwell time, spending and satisfaction in visited areas. There have been great strides over recent years in the quality of Ireland’s food and drink offering – now including sixteen whiskey distilleries and over fifteen gin distilleries, more than sixty micro-breweries, over seven thousand pubs and more than two thousand four-hundred restaurants including twelve Michelin Starred properties, over sixty food festivals, one hundred and sixty farmer markets, forty cookery schools and twenty-seven active food networks.
Reacting to the publication of the strategy, Jacinta Dalton from Fáilte Ireland Food Champions Programme, (members of the tourism, food and hospitality industry who champion and influence Irish food & cuisine) and Head of Department of Culinary Arts & Service Industries at Galway International Hotel School, GMIT, said that the Food and Drink strategy for the next five years is hugely important for Irish tourism. “Whilst a lot of great work has been done in the last number of years to promote Irish food to visitors, this strategy is important in terms of a wider reach right across the sector and it is important for all service providers at all levels to engage with this strategy and to ensure that Irish food and drink is featured on menus and promoted by frontline staff. From my own perspective in tourism/hospitality & culinary education, it’s a hugely important document in terms of teaching students about the importance of local provenance in tourism.”
Tom Flavin, executive chef at the Limerick Strand Hotel added that it’s a really exciting time for Irish food. He also stated that it’s great to be part of putting real quality Irish food on the map. “There is a lot of content in the strategy and there is a lot to do in the coming five years but with the people involved, we can make it happen and I’m sure it will happen.”
Ketty Elisabeth, owner of delicious Dublin tours, Dublin said that it is very exciting to see that food and drink will be part of the tourism strategy. “As a Fáilte Ireland Food Champion, it’s really exciting to see that the focus will be on food. We have an amazing offering already but now it’s to push it out there, and to attract people internationally and change the perception of Irish food.”
Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy. The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 225,000 people and generates more than €5.7 billion in revenue a year. The new Failte Ireland food and drink strtegy is sure to see an increase in Ireland’s tourism, with Ireland’s food being cited as a more popular reason for visiting.
To see the full Food and Drink Strategy report, go here.
For more information on the Food Champions Programme, go here.