Monmouthshire celebrated its tenth anniversary of being named Top Food Destination in Wales* with a Flavours of Monmouthshire event at Chepstow Tourist Information Centre on Monday 14th May. The occasion promoted local food and drink to the area’s hospitality businesses at the start of Wales Tourism Week.
Food tourism is particularly important to the county with expenditure on food and drink by visitors estimated to have been worth £37.5m of the total £190m revenue generated by tourism in Monmouthshire in 2016 (according to STEAM**).
Food is an essential part of the tourism offer, arguably because it provides the most common point of contact with visitors. Local produce and a range of quality places to eat and drink are also key drivers for visitors when choosing where to visit.
Visitor trends indicate that interest in food continues to rise at an exponential rate and now reaches beyond the elite, deep into the general population. Food tourism is therefore not just an important element of the visitor’s experience of a destination but also a key driver of sustainable tourism growth.
Monmouthshire’s food identity has continued to grow over the past ten years. The world-famous Abergavenny Food Festival, now in its twentieth year, has gone from strength to strength, enjoying an enviable reputation as an opportunity for chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers to come together in an inclusive space, delivering a much-needed opportunity for people from all walks of life to explore and learn about food.
Unsurprisingly, the county has more than its fair share of local food heroes. From passionate producers committed to creating sought after speciality and everyday food and drink products (using a combination of traditional methods and 21st century innovation), to award-winning chefs and eateries committed to serving and promoting high quality local ingredients and products to customers.
The county’s four vineyards, three micro-breweries, two cider producers, three cookery schools, two Michelin-starred restaurants, (one offering local foraging expeditions), two food festivals, a cider festival and a growing number of outlets selling local food and drink (including specialist delis and bakeries, and regular farmers’ markets in Abergavenny and Usk), means there’s no shortage of high quality food and drink-related experiences to attract groups and independent travellers to the county.
Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism said: “We’d like to say a big thank you and to raise a glass of local wine, cider, beer or the tipple of your choice to all involved in producing, serving and promoting local food and drink to visitors and residents. It’s been a concerted effort over an extended period and there’s a lot more that we need to do to ensure Monmouthshire remains at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re choosing their next short break destination. Most importantly we need to continue developing our distinctive local food culture by ensuring that visitors have access to local ingredients in our shops and festivals and on our menus, and that we build on our successes to deliver consistently high quality food and drink across all price points.”
For more information on Monmouthshire’s local food and drink offer visit: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/foodanddrink
Monmouthshire producers who attended the Flavours of Monmouthshire hospitality tasting event at Chepstow Tourist Information Centre on Monday evening included:
Lou’s Gluten Free Cakes & Bakes
*2008 True Taste Food and Drinks Awards
** Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor