Welcome to the second special annual edition of FNQ FOOD Magazine.
Once again we bring you a huge celebration of all the food and beverages this unique region has to offer, and all the characters, places and things that make them possible. Whether you are reading this as a local, a visitor, or in a far off place looking at what we have here, you will find something amazing.
As we look forward to more prosperous times ahead we also want to highlight the definite connection between culinary tourism and sustainable development. The rise of consumer interest in food provenance has started a move in regional agriculture toward niche outputs for consumers and tourists to either bolster or replace more traditional bulk production.
This is the sector in which we (FNQ Media and FNQ FOOD Magazine) live and breathe; the area of ‘added value’ in the local food chain. As a community we are proud, often fiercely, of our tropical region, forgiving its inclement wet season, geographical isolation and comparatively high cost of living in favour of celebrating its natural history, its cultural and industrial diversity, and the determination and innovation of its people.
I doubt there is anyone who isn’t familiar with the Great Barrier Reef, or even the Daintree, plus the vast red dirt that lies inland. But dig a little deeper and perhaps there are gaps in our collective knowledge of what we do here in food and drink. As residents of FNQ, both consumers and producers, it is our job, indeed duty to ourselves and the sustainability of the region, to become familiar with what we grow, make, eat and drink across the North. That is knowledge we can all share with each other and those that we invite here.
To put this into context, the estimated annual spend on food and drink by tourists in Australia is $25 billion. Everyone eats during their leisure time, whether that be a shopping trip or travel adventure. Increasingly, the demands are for good food, sustainably sourced and preferably local, even if those qualities come at a premium.
Tourism is not confined to those arriving here by plane: it’s someone living in Woree going to the pub in Innisfail; it’s having breakfast on the Esplanade; it’s what happens when we leave the house for purposes other than domestic or business. Food and drink are paramount in that experience. Increasingly more research from across the world indicates that not only does food drive first-time tourism and exploration, but a positive food experience underwrites return visits. In the same way we might become a regular at a local restaurant, having a positive culinary experience is a huge drawcard for coming back to the same region as a visitor.
So please join us as we celebrate another year in far northern hospitality, and continue the journey to the food (and drink) nirvana that is all around us and, as importantly, share what you find, take to the airwaves (or socials!), and use our hashtag #FNQfood. Go the extra mile to visit the award winning producers, manufacturers and venues. Recognise and select local produce. And, most of all, remember if you're here - for days, weeks or your entire life - it’s all yours too!