Editors notes - Feb/Mar 2011
It's all about the food
2011 is paving the way for the future. As we go to press, the electorate has yet to go to the polls, and the result will be of immense interest to everyone within hospitality. The candidate chosen to head up the respective offices of Arts Sport & Tourism, and Dept of Agriculture, will be of interest and concern to hoteliers, restaurateurs and suppliers alike. It is vital the support that has been allocated and forecast for the future is maintained and increased.
Statistics show that tourism has tremendous potential. The recent Fáilte Ireland/Tourism Ireland road show - aptly titled Team Tourism - reiterated the evidence of signs of recovery. This sentiment was expressed at one of Team Tourism's presentations and panel discussions, which are part of events organised throughout the regions. According to current indications, regional tourism is set to improve in 2011.
Reinforcing that belief, and citing Fáilte Ireland’s research, CEO Shaun Quinn pointed out that most tourism enterprises are optimistic regarding their business prospects this year. Approximately three in five businesses expect to maintain or grow in 2011. "2011 will once again be a tough year for all of us in the tourism industry, but there are positive signs in some of our key markets, particularly Europe and the US, and business sentiment about future prospects has improved slightly," said Sean Quinn, CEO, Fáilte Ireland. "We have a good quality product. We have better infrastructure and we are better value than before. We know where our target markets are and what needs to be done – particularly the need to grow market share in the UK. Tourism has a significant role to play in this county’s economic recovery and it is imperative that, as we develop the sector in 2011, we leave no stone unturned nor potential untapped."
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, emphasised the critical role which overseas tourism plays in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. "Overseas tourism business accounts for approximately 63% (about €3 billion) of all tourism revenue and has the capacity to deliver even more for Ireland as part of an export-led economic renewal," he said. "The good news is that interest in visiting the island of Ireland in all our key market remains high. The job of Tourism Ireland will be to convince as many of those people as possible that Ireland is still a great place for a holiday or short break.
In the fight to restore growth in overseas tourism, our emphasis will be on the top four markets of Great Britain, the United States, Germany and France, which together deliverthree-quarters of all overseas visitors."
The launch of the National Food Tourism Implementation Framework is further evidence of the critical role food plays within the tourism family. This has been further enhanced through support in creating a sense of identity for local foods and dishes.]
The recent Unilever World Menu Report threw up some interesting facts and will be the source of debate within hotel and restaurant kitchens across the country. Bad dietary habits not only have an effect on the person concerned, but also on health services and the exchequer. Billions of Euros are spent in an attempt to combat some of the problems created by the overuse of salt, sugar and certain fats. How does this effect hospitality? With more people eating out and looking for cost-effective options, more menu information should be made available for the consumer. Chefs, caterers, and others involved in foodservice, must ensure they give the customers informed alternatives without comprising on the quality and taste of their food. [See page 32-33 for a full report]
With this in mind, the recent Catex show brought an eclectic mix of companies, engaged in the varying aspects of foodservice, to the sector. From basic utensils to innovative foodproducts, Catex had it all. The event's competitions, arranged with the Panel of Chefs, proved entertaining once again. That said, it was a little disappointing to see these events consigned to the corners of the event. Perhaps at the next Catex, the organisers might make these competitions a focus. Who knows? It might well lead to bigger audiences.