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. Those were the remarks from Paul Keeley, Director of Commercial Development at Fáilte Ireland, at a briefing to tourism and food and drink industry representatives on the publication of the tourism body’s new Food and Drink Development 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.”
In 2017, revenue from overseas visitors totalled €6.5bn 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:
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.”
Failte Ireland Food Tourism Officer Sinead Hennessy and Failte Ireland Food Ambassadors at the launch of the new strategy in Dublin.