N.B. hoping to score hungry visitors with food tourism strategy

Come for the wild blueberries, stay for the province? The department of tourism, heritage and culture is hoping to lure hungry visitors to New Brunswick and is drawing up a food tourism strategy in order to do so.

'All the ingredients are here. It's just about pulling it all together'

Wild blueberries were touted as one of the foods that could draw culinary tourists to the province. (CBC)

Come for the wild blueberries, stay for the province?

The department of tourism, heritage and culture is hoping to lure hungry visitors to New Brunswick and is drawing up a food tourism strategy in order to do so.

About 150 farmers, food producers, chefs and restaurateurs met in Fredericton on Wednesday to brainstorm the plan and talk about what the province would look like as a food destination.

Rebecca Mackenzie, one of the forum's leaders, is a food tourism consultant with the Culinary Tourism Alliance. She said New Brunswick is an ideal place to try and market to foodies.

Mackenzie listed maple syrup as another one of the province's culinary selling points. (CBC)

Mackenzie cites the province's wild blueberries, maple syrup industry and seafood — like lobsters, salmon and clams — as culinary assets.

"I think what's really important is pride in place and I think that New Brunswick has a wealth of incredible ingredients from the land, the lakes and the ocean," she told CBC Radio's Shift.

"All the ingredients are here. It's just about pulling it all together."

Search for an 'authentic food' experience

Wednesday's forum largely celebrated what is grown, raised and caught here, with discussions about local ingredients, success stories and how the area could be marketed abroad.

The hope is to take what was learned at the forum and apply it to the strategy.

Mackenzie wants greater relationships fostered between all of the food producers and advocates in New Brunswick — and for those with experience to step up and help up-and-comers.

Rebecca Mackenzie of the Culinary Tourism Alliance on efforts to develop tourism by linking local farmers and restaurants 7:41

It's the province's latest food tourism forum, after a similar summit was held in Shediac last March, aimed at attracting culinary visitors to southeast New Brunswick.

Mackenzie has implemented successful food tourism programs in Ontario, most notably Prince Edward County's Taste Trail.

"We know that travellers are looking at immersing themselves through a destination through the lens of that terroir, that authentic food and drink experience."

She said New Brunswick has the recipe needed for food tourism success.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it could happen."

With files from Haydn Watters