Galway has now been officially awarded a European Region of Gastronomy 2018, the first region in Ireland to receive this designation. The award was presented by Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and Dr. Diane Dodd, President of IGCAT at a ceremony held yesterday in Aarhus, Central Denmark at the IFAMA (International Food and Agribusiness Management Association) conference. The award ceremony was followed by a ‘Taste of Galway’ which featured a range of excellent local foods and produce from Galway.
The European Region of Gastronomy award provides Galway with an excellent opportunity to build on the strong reputation and the excellent name it has in terms of a tourist destination, by building its profile further nationally and very importantly internationally.
Ireland’s reputation as a food destination and country known for producing high quality food has grown significantly and Galway has played a significant role in this. Excellent restaurants, including two of Ireland’s Michelin star restaurants and a large number of other high quality restaurants sourcing high quality local produce along with fantastic landscape, superb hospitality, heritage, culture and people make it a choice for many to visit but also importantly as a place to live. It is strengths such as these that also add to Galway’s attractiveness for investment by many of the top global and national firms, where employees know they can access high quality food offerings.
Speaking after the award ceremony Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive, Galway County Council said “this is a fantastic achievement for Galway which will build on our key strengths and contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of our City, County and our region. Galway County Council are excited about working with all stakeholders to deliver on the key focus areas of our programme. This is an excellent example of how co-operation and collaborative working can assist to deliver on the shared objectives of a wide range of partners.”
The lead up to securing this designation has required significant work locally involving a wide range of stakeholders from the public, private, knowledge institutions and community & voluntary sectors. Five key focus areas for Galway were agreed for the programme entitled ‘From the Ground Up Feeding our Future’ and these are Education and Health; Linking Urban / Rural; Cultural Diversity; Sustainability and Feeding the Planet; Supporting SMEs and Innovation.
The designation offers an opportunity to put in place strong support and to develop programmes which focus on building on the strengths of our Food; Agriculture; Tourism; Marine; Creative and Arts sectors and industries by bringing together all the parties working with a common aim. The European Region of Gastronomy programme will contribute to further growth in the economy in the Galway region and contribute to job creation across the various sectors and industries. While the designation is for the year 2018 which will comprise of a yearlong programme of events of all types from support to businesses, to community celebration, from conferences to symposia work is already underway to deliver projects that will support the key focus areas and have a lasting legacy.
In 2018 Galway, West of Ireland will share the honour of this title with North Brabant in the Netherlands and both regions will use the award year to work collaboratively on a number of projects and work with the other regions in the European Region of Gastronomy platform.