Sustainable economic development – CS 3

The Burren Food Trail

a case study provided by the Burren and cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark partnered with a network of local businesses, the Burren Ecotourism Network, to develop a tourism product that would:

  • tell the geology and heritage story of the destination,
  • highlight the experiences offered by the businesses, and
  • attract the attention of visitors, media and trade,

thereby generating publicity and visitors for the Geopark. The finished product was the Burren Food Trail.

  • The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
  • The GeoparkLIFE project steering committee – which was made up of national tourism and conservation agencies. This was an EU-funded LIFE project.
  • The Burren Ecotourism Network – A network of tourism businesses based in the Geopark region with a commitment to sustainable tourism practices that are externally audited.
How it Worked

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark provided the leadership, co-ordination and administrative support to the group of businesses who provided the on-the-ground experiences and events.

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How it Developed

The objective of the Burren Food Trail is to enable visitors to mentally and physically link the food to the spectacular landscape within which it is enjoyed. It seeks to capitalise on the unique selling point of the destination, the landscape itself, and tell the story of how it has influenced farming, fishing and food flavours, and has inspired a collection of award-winning food producers and restaurants to congregate in the area.

With the Geopark team providing the administrative, facilitation and leadership support the group developed the product, the story, a series of events, a leaflet, poster, a tagline and a social media presence.

Each festival, event and publication sought to easily uncover the path from farm to fork, showcasing a destination where producers, growers, suppliers, chefs and shops are working in tangible partnership.

The group also developed standards and a Burren Food Trail promise that ensured quality of experience.

Burren Food Trail Promise

The members of the Burren Food Trail are bound by their commitment to building a sustainable future for the region. Each of the featured restaurants offers a Burren Food Trail Signature Dish to savour. Each member has achieved recognised quality awards and standards, and has also signed up to the Burren Food Trail Customer Promise: you will find staff who are knowledgeable about the regional food story, menus which state the source of local produce, information on local food events and markets as well as a commitment to maximise the use of local ingredients in all prepared food.

The Innovative Aspect

A trail that was accessible to visitors and trade in that it provided a series of bookable, priced, timed events at defined venues every Monday throughout the tourism season.

Example events included:

  • Foraging for your supper. The tour began with foraging for seaweed on the coast of the Geopark followed by a picnic supper prepared with the ingredients found.
  • Dining on local produce in unique locations like a cave or a church.
  • Touring local farms and picnicking on their cheeses and meats.

All the events involved meeting the producers and getting the story behind the produce. The story of how the landscape influences them.

One of the most successful events to have emerged from the series is a ‘Long Table’ event. This features a meal in a unique location in which all the diners sit at the same table and a different food producer prepares each course. The producer then introduces the course to the diners.

Benefits and Results

Having a series of events that supported a trail leaflet created a real buzz among journalists and tourism operators. The profile of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark as a food destination dramatically increased and the destination won an international “European Destinations of Excellence“ (EDEN) Award, as European destination of excellence for gastronomy as well as a national ‘Foodie Town’ award.