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Published on : Thursday, June 9, 2016
The successful participants secured a complementary place on The Foodies’ Food and Drink Tour of Belfast after marking the completion of the WorldHost ‘Sales Powered by Service’ programme at the Merchant Hotel in May.
The training programme, which was tailored specifically for Tourism NI’s Year of Food and Drink 2016, saw 80 industry professionals trained in customer service skills with the aim of boosting businesses’ bottom line.
Over 30 of the programme’s successful participants attended the celebratory lunch at The Merchant Hotel on Monday 9 May to be presented with their certificates by leading food critic Charles Campion. Eight of that number were in attendance on Friday morning to join Caroline Wilson of Belfast Food Tours on her gastronomical tour of the city.
The tour, which began at St George’s Market before visiting The Garrick, Co Couture the John Hewitt and Coppi, focusses exclusively on premium local food and drink and the stories behind the people and the produce, key elements of the WorldHost training.
One of the participants in attendance, Karen Edwards, who runs the Channel Vista self-catering holiday let in Glenarm, said the added benefit of the tour would be in providing top quality recommendations to her guests.
“You want the people who stay on your premises to have a great food experience. I think from a self-catering point of view especially, seeing all the market has to offer, both from a tourist’s and a shopper’s perspective, was fabulous.”
Karen, who provides a welcome pack for her guests, said the training had reaffirmed the importance of using local produce but had also highlighted its crucial part in the overall holiday experience for visitors.
“The WorldHost training was excellent, very useful and I was surprised at the standard and variety of the local produce we were introduced to. Since then, for example, I have been working exclusively with my local baker in Glenarm and other local suppliers and that is as a result of the programme.”
Marie Byrne, who also runs a self-catering facility in Glenarm, Castle Glen House, said the wide range of local produce on the tour and the training had refocussed her welcome pack offering to local visitors in addition to foreign guests.
“I would have concentrated on local produce more with foreign visitors but now do the same with locals,” said Marie. “The tour really does show you the range of local produce from all over the north. The training made us more aware of local produce in general and I would have liked to have seen it brought even more local if possible, for example in Glenarm where we are based. However, I would definitely use more local products now.”
Cultural heritage specialist Sharon Brown, who hosts international visitors as part of a tourism interaction programme, said the WorldHost training had helped her immensely with her guests who she described as ‘very foodie’.
“The selection of the food provided showed me a much wider and more diverse range of local food. The tour has also been fascinating and really wasn’t what I expected. I have learned an awful lot which can be pitched for the international visitor, the background behind the dish ‘champ’ for example. I’ve been on food tours in places like the Philippines where they are quite common and we are really catching up.”
Industry development officer with Tourism NI Louise McKinstry, who organised the training, said its success had already led to initial discussions with local councils about rolling out the programme across the region.
“We have had such a positive response from our participants and their organisations that we are hoping to develop the programme further,” said Louise. “The message that the knowledge and delivery of our local produce is a core element of the tourism offering has really hit home in this, the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink.”
Source:- Tourism Northernireland