Ards and North Down Borough Council has launched a new Food Destination Development Plan. The plan, which will be delivered over the next three years, will position Ards and North Down as a premier food tourism destination on the island of Ireland with the aim of attracting more visitors to the area.
Building on the area’s already strong credentials in food and drink, the plan will bring to life the traditions, flavours and craftsmanship of its food and drink producers. Festivals and events, suppliers and food markets, restaurants and eateries will also form part of the plan.
Richard Smart, Mayor of Ards and North Down, said: “We have a plethora of indigenous events, producers, suppliers and food and drink hotspots – in fact our credentials are already well established.
“We are one of the few regions in Northern Ireland to have earned PGI status (protected geographical indication) for our Comber Early potatoes. This is a strong foundation we can build upon.
“Gastronomic experiences are an integral part of the tourism experience, yet it is not always possible to truly capture the authenticity of a local area.
“Our plan will allow visitors to discover products, places of production, producers, chefs and hosts as well as events that epitomize the Ards and North Down area and establish it as a premier food tourism destination on the island of Ireland.
“By harnessing their potential and supporting the initiative fully with customer service and effective marketing, I have no doubt that food destination development will have a transformative effect on our local communities in terms of economic benefits, regeneration and sustainability.
“The plan includes well-loved food and drink events such as Comber Earlies Food Festival and Portavogie Seafood Festival, established and emerging food producers and suppliers, as well as retail outlets and eateries such as delicatessens, farm shops, restaurants, chefs and more. Visitors will be brought on an authentic journey through the borough’s food and drink offering.
“Despite being relatively new, food destination development is now recognised throughout the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe as an integral part of the wider visitor experience that shapes the unique heritage and culture of a place.
“Bangor and Portaferry have already been identified as important gateway points to Ards and North Down with Comber, Donaghadee and Portavogie all pinpointed as important staging points on the visitor journey.
“The plan builds on extensive work by the council and its stakeholders to date and takes its lead from the Integrated Tourism, Regeneration and Economic Development Strategy for Ards and North Down.”
o Copies of the strategy can be downloaded from the council website