Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan has congratulated last night’s winners of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards at a gala ceremony held in St Columb’s Hall, Derry~Londonderry.
The 2016 NITA awards spanned 14 different categories and included two special awards.
County Londonderry outdoor adventure centre The Jungle NI won the Outstanding Visitor Experience of the Year, while the Circuit of Ireland Rally lifted the Best Event or Festival Experience title, decided by public vote.
Galgorm Resort & Spa scooped the Hotel of the Year award. In other accommodation categories, the winners were Blackwell House, which lifted the Serviced Accommodation award; Number 1 Barn Lane, the Non-Serviced Accommodation award; and the National Trust's Crom Glamping Pods, which lifted the Unique Tourist Accommodation accolade.
In Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink the Best Food Tourism Experience award went to contemporary Bushmills restaurant, Tartine at Distillers Arms.
The Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award was made to Dr Howard Hastings OBE, Managing Director of Hastings Hotels, who held a widely praised six-year tenure as the chair of the former Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Mary Blake, a highly respected Tourism Development Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council lifted the Local Tourism Hero award.
Belfast’s first ever Twilight Market has picked up the Tourism Innovation Award at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards 2016.
The pilot event, in November 2015, saw St George’s Market transformed into a bustling bazaar showcasing the best of the city’s food and drink scene.
The market beat off stiff competition from Rockin’ Boat Trips (Causeway Sea Fishing Company) and We Are Vertigo to scoop the prize at last night’s awards ceremony in Derry/Londonderry, organised by Tourism Northern Ireland.
The award win comes in the same week that St George’s hosted its second Twilight Market. The event was extended over two nights and welcomed over 18,000 people through its doors for chef demonstrations, live music, family activities and delicious culinary treats from local producers.
Northern Ireland’s new Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has said generating quality jobs and economic growth is a top priority for the new Department.
Outlining his priorities for the new Department for the Economy, the Minister said: “I am delighted to have been chosen to lead the Department for the Economy. I will take every opportunity I can to create more and better jobs and raise people’s incomes.
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has welcomed a continued positive performance in the tourism sector.
The Minister was speaking as the 2015 Annual Tourism Statistics Report was published. He said: “In total, tourism in 2015 generated £760million and of this £541million representing an increase of 5%, was brought into the economy from external markets.
The language of ‘knowing your customer and growing your business’ is underpinned by a range of buzz words, from collaboration and clustering to partnership and promotion. One new B and B owner however boils her approach down to basics despite a long-standing commitment to the ideas behind the advice.
“For me it’s about looking at the entire business as a guest and putting myself in their shoes, seeing their visit as a whole experience and how it can entice them back to enjoy the Causeway Coast."
Nicola Neill's Blackrock House has become the first five-star B and B in Portrush and is one of only six currently operating in the north. The brand new business venture, which opened full time at the start of April, is already off to a flying start with its weekend trade. And having already been shortlisted for the brand new ‘Most Promising New Tourism Businesses’ category in this year’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, success is set to stay for Blackrock.
“It’s been amazing to have had bookings every weekend since I opened part time back in January 31 and I have been overwhelmed by the numbers of guests despite it being the winter months. In the first week of April the house was booked out by separate wedding parties and I’m really looking forward to the season ahead. I was lucky to be awarded MADE.com ‘House of the Month’ in January which was a great platform to let people know I was opening soon.”
The landscape of County Down is bearing fruit for a 19th century cottage which has been providing self-catering accommodation since its renovation ten years ago.
Glassdrumman Cottage in Saintfield is run by William Howard who planted an orchard beside the traditional farm building during its conversion in 2006. Originally intended as a landscaping feature so guests could enjoy the apple blossom, Glassdrumman now produces its very own cider savoured by visitors and locals alike. Currently in its third year of production, albeit on a tiny scale, the cider is a direct result of the landscape as well as the ‘place’, as accommodation provider and cider producer William explains.
Game of Thrones® fever is once again at an almighty high as HBO’s world-renowned series has been back on screens for the past five weeks.
During that time Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland have been unveiling a series of ten intricately carved doors, depicting moments inspired by the current season in a campaign known as #DoorOfThrones. The doors have been carved from trees blown down in Storm Gertrude earlier in the year at the Dark Hedges in Co Antrim which serves as the backdrop for the Kingsroad, perhaps the most iconic Game of Thrones® location in Northern Ireland.
The impressive pieces of art will hang in pubs and other venues in Northern Ireland near filming locations where iconic scenes took place, giving visitors a brand new Game of Thrones® Territory trail to follow. The newest addition to the trail has now been unveiled at Frank Owens Bar, Limavady, Co. Londonderry.
A delegation from Belfast, led by the Lord Mayor, is in Beijing and Shenyang, China this week to explore areas of collaboration between the cities in urban development, smart city working, active ageing and tourism and education.
The programme for the Belfast City Council visit has been facilitated by the Northern Ireland Bureau in China which organised meetings, managed logistics and provided advice and briefing on engagement with China to the delegation. The visit also coincided with a trade mission by Invest Northern Ireland to the city of Shenyang this week.
Belfast City Council signed a Friendly Cooperation Agreement with Shenyang in 2014 with the relationship upgraded to Sister City status today when the Lord Mayor Arder Carson signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoM) with the Mayor of Shenyang, Pan Liguo, in Shenyang today. They were accompanied by the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in China, Tim Losty, and, Councillor Emmet McDonough Brown.
The visit to China followed a recent meeting with the Chinese Consulate General in Belfast, Madam Wang Shuying, in City Hall to discuss the goals the delegation wanted to achieve through their mission.
Financial support from Tourism NI provides a lifeline to a host of events whether global happenings such as the Giro d’Italia, international events like the NI Open or national levels events like Georgian Day. However, this year has seen a further lift with the allocation of additional support as part of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.
A total of 48 events have been successful and are being supported from a £300,000 Year of Food and Drink Tourism Events Scheme secured from central government for the 12-month long initiative. Allocation of the budget, designed to enhance and uplift the food and drink element of existing events or create a new authentic food and drink experience at new events, has recently been finalised by TNI’s events team. With awards ranging in value from £3,000 to £10,000, recipients include Shane’s Castle Vintage Steam Fair, a Bluegrass Festival in Omagh, a brand new addition to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and a ‘Meat and Greet’ at the Féile International Food Fayre.
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