With tourism being ever more important in Northern Ireland to help sustain our local economy, we are continually driving new opportunities and ideas to ensure we can both sustain it, as well as increase it. Sustainable tourism is an area which not many know about or recognise as one of N.Ireland’s increasing businesses and considerations.
More and more tourists and visitors to N.Ireland are adding an additional tick box to their list of requests, ethical consumerism. As our awareness of environmental issues increases, we are now looking at services which are sustainable and ethical. NITourism states that one in three visitors to Northern Ireland are now preferring to stay in accommodation with green credentials and 25% willing to pay more for products and services that are eco-friendly.
According to the Urban Environment Management, Sustainable Tourism is ‘business which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate, income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems.’ One particular business based in Belfast is ticking all the boxes, winning awards and increasing its visitors and customers at an evolving rate. Fish City is a unique Fish and Chip restaurant and takeway located in the heart of the city, which takes its view on sustainability and traceability very seriously. As a result of their policies and procedures put in place, they have now been shortlisted for the Sustainable Tourism award in this year’s 2017 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards in association with DIAGEO Northern Ireland.
John Lavery who is at the fore front of this evolution states, “sustainable tourism has come to us as result of our strong ethical beliefs, ensuring we provide sustainable seafish and local produce at all times. So many fish is being captured around our islands that are no longer sustainable, which means our children and grandchildren may never experience them.
“We ensure that we are aware of every link in the chain, from catching the fish to what boat it was on, the names of the crew! right up until it is served on your plate.
“Although we only opened in July last year, we have been winning awards on our processes and how our business delivers an experience, not just something to eat. We are strong advocates of the Marine Conservation Society and were the first retailer in Ireland to have been awarded the Martine Stewardship Certification as well as achieving a ‘4Blue Fish’ rating with Fish2Fork or Or responsibly sourced categories 1-3. We also work closely with ‘Seafish UK’ which is an agency working hard to support both our fisherman and our seafish around our shores.
“Since opening we have worked closely with the MCS and MSC to develop a policy which stands at the heart of our business, supporting our delivery of sustainable, traceable seafish. It is often the case that visitors to N.Ireland whose consumption of fish which is greater than ours, ie, particularly European and Asian visitors who also have a strong environmental awareness, are continuing to seek out our restaurant during their visits to Belfast and the feedback has been incredible. We continue to raise awareness of the different types of fish available, supporting kids clubs, the RNLI and working closely with various stakeholders. The world-renowned Dr Christopher Elliott, Professor of Food Safety and founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast recently supported us in our launch of Fish City’s Healthy Options Menu which focuses on sustainability, traceability and local produce.
“Sustainable Tourism is no longer someone else’s responsibility, as at Fish City we will continue to develop new opportunities to discuss the issues being faced and how we can support the discussion on raising global awareness. By entering this competition, we are doing just that, as we highlight sustainable tourism with our customers, visitors to the area, our suppliers and those engaging with our staff. This is now an extremely important part of N.Irelands annual tourism provision and we want to continue being at the forefront of our industry.”