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Industry experts to draw up recipe for tourism success

4 Feb 2016
With Northern Ireland marking the ‘Year of Food and Drink’, three more top speakers have been confirmed for a major conference focusing on the importance of the food and hospitality industries to local tourism later this month.

The conference, which has the theme ‘Focus On Food: Our Recipe For Tourism Success’, takes place at St George’s Market on Tuesday 23 February.

Speakers and panelists are drawn from all areas of the food and hospitality industry, including chefs, academics and retailers. They include the acclaimed Michelin Star chef, restaurateur and author JP McMahon, culinary director of the Eat Galway Restaurant Group, who will address the importance of partnership and collaboration between all aspects of the food industry, including farmers, producers and restaurants.

Ewen Venters, CEO of Fortnum and Mason, who has been described by Spears Magazine as “one of the most influential people on the British food scene”, will look at the shifting trends in food shopping, as well as how the store regards Northern Ireland products, such as award-winning Glenarm salmon and Shortcross gin, as being synonymous with the quality their customers expect. Professor Lynsey Hollywood, Lecturer in Consumer Management and Food Innovation at Ulster University, will look at latest trends in food tourism and agri-food.

Nigel Hardy, Head of Global Food at Invest NI, will provide practical information and advice on how local artisan producers can get their products into national and international marketplace including top-end retailers, while Damien Donnelly of Ad-Man Creative Marketing will focus on practical and immediate tips on how to boost businesses through digital marketing.

The keynote speaker will be top chef, food writer and broadcaster Valentine Warner, who will share his passion for food heritage, the people, the places and the stories they tell while “in conversation” with conference host Sarah Travers.

There also will be a series of panel discussions, looking at the subjects discussed in the main presentations. Panellists will include Caroline Wilson of Belfast Food Tours, Jilly Dougan of Slow Food NI, the food journalist Joris Minne, Michelin Star restaurateur Michael Deane, Michele Shirlow of Food NI and Nigel Hardy.

‘Focus On Food: Our Recipe For Tourism Success’ is organized with support from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), through its Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme, and Tourism NI.

To register for the ‘Focus On Food: Our Recipe For Tourism Success’ conference, visit An ‘early bird’ registration fee is available until tomorrow (Friday 5 February). Attendees can also keep up to date with developments on Twitter, by following @belfast_food or #belfastfocusonfood.
Three more speakers have been confirmed for this year's 'Focus On Food' conference on 23 February. Valentine Warner