By SAM BUTLER
An all-island Taste the Island celebration of food and drink is planned from mid-September to mid-November.
Announced by Failte Ireland, the festival is part of an initiative to draw international tourists to Ireland to enjoy the world-class produce.
The announcement was made by Failte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly at the annual Irish Breakfast Awards organised by food writer Georgina Campbell last week.
“I’m delighted to announce that programme now has a name, it’s going to be called Taste the Island, a celebration of Ireland’s food and drink,” he told the hospitality and food business owners in attendance.
“This is a programme that’s going to run from mid-September to until mid-November. It’s going to be a significant two-month programme all about trying to develop and promote Ireland’s food offerings,” he added.
There’s no clear indication about which body will take the lead in Northern Ireland or if there will be any funding made available to ensure the region is part of what could be an important food/tourism initiative and could be a precursor to a year-long celebration of the island’s fabulous food and drink.
Mr Kelly continued: “Obviously, if you’ve got a festival that lasts for a weekend or for a week or something like that it becomes very hard for that to be at a scale to be promoted internationally.
“Because the amount of people who can manage to get their holidays and take an international trip during that tight time window is very restrictive.
“So the idea of this two-month long programme, which of course is all about shoulder season and extending out the shoulder season that gives us a long enough window for our colleagues in the international markets to get out there and market it really heavily knowing there’s enough time,” he added.
He continued: “The idea is that whenever you come to Ireland during that two-month window there will be a unique and fantastic authentic local based food providence experience and programme for it.”
Taste the Island is an initiative that hopes to draw international tourists to Ireland to indulge in our world-class produce, explained Mr Kelly.
“So, if you’ve run a food-related business or are involved in your local community and would like to showcase its fabulous food offerings, make sure you’re part of the celebrations!”
Mr Kelly urged businesses to get involved with the initiative and see how they could ‘bring that to life’ within their own companies and localities.