IGCAT's Director Participates in the 11th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference

The 11th Annual Tourism & Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC) took place in LYIT on 11-12 June 2015. The theme for THRIC 2015 was ‘Collaborative Sustainable Development – The Way Forward for Tourism’. These conferences are run on an all-Ireland basis and provides an annual opportunity for the dissemination and presentation of research in the broad tourism sector including hospitality and culinary operations. This central theme was discussed by a number of keynote speakers with a range of presentations on related themes throughout the conference.

Dr. Diane Dodd, director of IGCAT, participated with the topic ‘The Importance of Culture and Food Diversity for Gastrodiplomacy and Tourism’. In line with IGCAT’s aims, Dr. Dodd spoke about the importance of maintaining the creativity and diversity of food an culture in local settings for sustainability, social cohesion, citizen pride, education, health and the economy. This is a wake up call in current times where fewer owners dominate cultural and food markets, and as population grows and switches to a globalised diet, which means a widening of choice in one direction but, a reduced knowledge about their own food culture. However, she stressed that there are some global initiatives and a growing support from different sectors for the conservation of the food and cultural diversity. These initiatives range from intergovernmental agreements, such as: the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and The Global Sustainable Tourism Council; to grass-root movements as Slow Food, The European Region of Gastronomy; and public policies strategies such as: the Seals of Origin.

Dr. Dodd explained how gastrodiplomacy is strategic to support food and cultural diversity as food plays a central role in most national and regional cultural identities, providing a source of branding, economic production and sustenance. The task is not easy for regions and nations hoping to brand and support food visibility internationally and nationally, as they have to marry the need for diversity while at the same time projecting a strong and unified image. In the conclusion of her keynote speech, Dr. Dodd advocated for a new approach to tourism whereby first and foremost we cherish our citizens way of life, food, customs, our landscapes and heritage. By supporting food and cultural diversity we can feed new tourism initiatives, support SMEs and provide a platform for gastrodiplomacy.

The Conference was organized by Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT). LYIT is celebrating over forty years as a key driver in the economic development of the North-West of Ireland.  Home to over 3,000 students LYIT comprises four schools; School of Business, School of Engineering, School of Science and of course the School of Tourism based on the Killybegs Campus.

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