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Year of Food and Drink starts with breakfast

By Margaret Canning

The Year of Food and Drink 2016 - a major push by the Executive to promote Northern Ireland as a destination for foodies - has begun.

Over the next 12 months, producers and consumers will be encouraged to celebrate Northern Ireland's food and drink in events organised by Tourism NI, part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI).

It's hoped that tourists, and residents, will be tempted to spend more on food and drink as a result.

But DETI was unable to give an over-arching financial target to measure its ambitions for the year, in which every month will have a different theme, including breakfast for January, a seafood theme for July and a meat focus for September.

A spokesman for DETI said: "Food tourism already generates over £350m per year to the local economy but we believe there is significant room for further growth."

Writing in today's Business Telegraph, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: "We are well on course to reach the target of making tourism a £1bn industry by 2020.

"I believe 2016 and the NI Year of Food and Drink has the potential to significantly build on this momentum."

The year's events are also championed by Food NI, a promotional body mainly funded by member companies, but which also receives some funding from Invest NI and Tourism NI.

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