The English Riviera could host a yearly food festival which could put the resort on the international seafood map. Tourism bosses say it would be launched as part of the new branding of England’s Seafood Coast which itself could become as well known internationally as East Devon and Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
And the potential is said to be huge for the Bay, where figures show that tourists already spend more on food and drink, £120m a year, compared with £100m for accommodation.
A decision is expected before the end of the month on national funding for the project to develop and market England’s Seafood Coast destination and start a yearly food festival attracting international chefs and delegates.
The resort hopes to benefit from a grant from the Government through its £40 million Discover England Fund.
The England Seafood Coast project, inspired by Brixham chef Mitch Tonks and his celebration of local seafood with Brixham Fish Market at its heart, has been carrying out a six month study to establish what is needed to develop the concept to attract international visitors to the Bay, supported by DEFRA, Visit England, and Torbay Culture Board.
A meeting was held at Pier Point restaurant in Torquay to mark the end of the first stage of the project which led to the bid for £125,000 from Discover England.
Chief executive of the English Riviera BID Company Carolyn Custerson said the projects being developed include new walk guides, in conjunction with the South West Coast Path Organisation and setting up a food and drink forum in the Bay to encourage operators to learn from each other’s success.
She said the project had been inspired by partners including Mitch Tonks, Jim Parker editor of the Herald Express and Chris Hart chairman of the ERBID company.
She said: “For the past six months we have been scoping the opportunities. Funding will not be granted unless you can show evidence a potentially new world class product which can be developed.
“Indirectly so many businesses are linked to the fish industry at Brixham, but it’s not just about food but about walks, culture, heritage developing inspirational world class tourism packages and itineraries.”
Mrs Custerson said the aim is to create something international travel companies can include in their brochures. For example six German tour operators are visiting Brixham later in March.
“I am really excited about this project, but the day I will be most excited is when there are on line, bookable experiences available to be bought in currencies worldwide,” she said.
It could include tours of facilities like Brixham fish market, local food and drink producers, restaurants, tea rooms and fish and chip shops.
At the same time there are high hopes Devon can be included in a £3.2m Visit Britain Great Food Campaign to promote its food and drink culture and regional specialities.
Mitch Tonks said he had a vision that the festival itself would be more than a chance to sample and buy food in the Bay, but include academic study of the challenges facing the seafood industry which will attract delegates and chefs from all over the world.
Mitch said: “The one thing South Devon has that nobody else has is the best seafood in the world, but we do a bad job of communicating it.
“If everybody picks up the concept of the England Seafood Coast and use it and promote it, the more we bring it to life and the more traction it will get. For example we have launched a new beer called Seafood Coast Ale and it is going really well. It’s all part of the experience of coming here.”
Jordan Hatfield, head chef at Pier Point said the biggest advantage local restaurants had over other areas was being able to get the freshest fish possible.
Kelly Widley, Pier Point manager, said: “We believe there has been no better time for this, with the new road, the many fantastic quality eateries opening up through the Bay, the benefits of eating seafood trending on social media and more choosing to holiday in the UK over the continent. The time to act and take advantage of this is now.”
Original Story by Tina Crowson on Devon Live.
Reproduced by kind permission of author/publisher.