Year of Food and Drink proved the perfect recipe for boosting tourism, banquet told
Food tourism in Northern Ireland is now "in business" after a year-long campaign to boost its appeal, the head of Tourism NI has said.
Chairman Terence Brannigan said satisfaction ratings from visitors to Northern Ireland were now around 83% overall following the 2016 Year of Food and Drink.
He spoke at a banquet in the Ulster Museum last night celebrating the impact of the programme.
Mr Brannigan said: "Food tourism in Northern Ireland is now in business and has the potential to impact significantly on visitor spend in the future.
"This can only serve to help tourism reach its overall objectives to the end of the decade."
He said the success of the year had led to gains for the agri-food sector, as well as the tourism and hospitality industries.
Niall McKenna, owner of four Belfast restaurants including James Street South, said: "The Year of Food and Drink has provided a firm foundation to build a platform for our incredible food and drink offering, and shine the spotlight on locally produced goods.
"Restaurateurs across Northern Ireland share a collective responsibility to showcase our indigenous produce in the most creative and impactful ways, and to as wide an audience as possible - something James Street South and our sister restaurants are wholly committed to.
"With visitor numbers to Belfast growing, there is a palpable positivity about the city as a vibrant hospitality destination and we need to keep the momentum of Year and Food and Drink going over 2017 and beyond to embed our tourism offering for the global market."
The Belfast Telegraph has joined with Tourism NI to hold the 2016 Year of Food and Drink Awards, which culminate in an awards ceremony in the Culloden Hotel on February 2.