Tourism NI today (15th August) unveiled an exciting new programme of food and drink experiences as part of ‘Taste the Island’ campaign.

The special events, which will be held throughout September, October and November, are a celebration of Northern Ireland’s finest food and drink produce.

‘Taste the Island’ is a three-year initiative developed in partnership between Tourism NI, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland that aims to significantly enhance Northern Ireland’s food and drink reputation.

The programme aims to build on 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 latest research estimates visitor expenditure at £968m of which approximately one third, £350m, is spent on food and drink. Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen, believes this new initiative will deliver even more growth.

“Food and drink accounts for 30% of the total visitor spend here. Internationally, our reputation for great food and drink is growing as demonstrated by the global Best Food Destination award in 2018.

“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,” he added.

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.”

Speaking about the announcement, Tracey Coughlan, Fáilte Ireland’s Food Tourism Manager, commented:

“Food is a central part of the visitor experience and Taste the Island is designed to showcase our high quality produce to the world and let them know about the incredible experiences they can have throughout the island of Ireland.

“Today we are launching a packed full programme of exciting and exceptional food and drink experiences which will take place across the island of Ireland from September to November this year. 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, said: “Taste the Island is a truly exciting initiative, shining a spotlight on the superb culinary experience on offer right around Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland and we look forward to promoting the programme in our overseas markets over the coming months and years.

“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.”

Taste the Island will include more than 150 food and drink experiences across Northern Ireland, supported by a new food and drink focused marketing campaign.

Food heaven events not to be missed are:

  • Armagh Food and Cider Festival (19 – 22 September)
  • Taste the Island at Culture Weekend, Cathedral Food Market, Belfast (20 – 21 September)
  • Festival Lough Erne (21 – 22 September)
  • Belfast Restaurant Week (23 – 29 September)
  • River to Lough Festival, Antrim (28 September)
  • Taste Causeway 2019 (4 – 27 October)
  • Slow Food Festival, Derry~Londonderry (10 – 13 October)
  • Derry International Halloween Festival (26 October – 1 November)
  • Taste the Island at the Twilight Market, Belfast (12 – 13 November)
  • Armagh Georgian Festival (28 – 30 November)

For further information about Taste the Island visit or follow #TastetheIsland

Pictured at the launch which took place at Life Centre, Belfast are Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen, Chef Paula McIntyre, Tourism Ireland’s Louise Finnegan and Failte Ireland’s Tracey Coughlan. 

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan


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