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.
An exciting opportunity for destinations to boost their reputations and promote their food offerings, is being made available by Tourism NI in partnership with St George’s Market.
The dedicated Year of Food and Drink platform is available to a range of stakeholders over the busy weekend periods at the iconic Belfast market throughout the year. Local councils, via their visitor information centres, as well as a number of food and drink producers, have already availed of this platform in a prominent site near the market clock. With almost 20,000 visitors from Friday to Sunday, the dedicated Year of Food and Drink stand provides a wonderful opportunity for key stakeholders to get involved.
Tourism NI’s Year of Food and Drink Project Manager, Ann Moreland said the aim of the project was two-fold in supporting tourism.
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and World Rugby unveil the tournament identity for the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 (WRWC 2017) which will be held in Dublin and Belfast in August of next year.
The unveiling ceremony which took place at University College Dublin, the venue of the WRWC 2017 pool matches, was attended by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, incoming World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan, IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne and WRWC 2017 Tournament Ambassador and former Ireland Women's captain Fiona Coghlan.
A celebratory event for successful participants of a Tourism NI Year of Food and Drink training programme took place in Belfast last week, hosted by a high profile food critic and attended by around 50 people.
The WorldHost ‘Sales Powered by Service’ programme saw 80 industry professionals trained in customer service skills tailored specifically for the Year of Food and Drink and aimed ultimately at boosting businesses’ bottom line. Over 30 of the programme’s successful participants attended the celebratory lunch at The Merchant Hotel last Monday (9 May) to be presented with their certificates by Charles Campion. The leading food writer and critic addressed the gathering on the importance of food provenance and its added value to customer service, just one of the topics covered in the training.
The first ever Ulster Chowder Championship will take place at the end of this month as part of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival and organisers are urging industry members to get involved.
The competition, which is open to anyone holding a Food Hygiene Certificate, will see the winner crowned Ulster Chowder Champion and entered into the prestigious All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Kinsale next year with the support of Destination Ballycastle. That support will include overnight accommodation, dinner for two people and travelling expenses to the world famous competition in one of the top seafood centres in the country.Organised as part of the NI Year of Food and Drink, the competition will take place on Sunday 29 May in the Cookery Theatre Marquee, set up as part of the maritime celebration.
Dandelion leaves and Rosebay Willowherb were among the tasty treats on offer during a woodland forage on Monday as two local borough councils went ‘Wild About Food’.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council launched their joint initiative celebrating local produce in the village of Ballynure, which lies on the boundary of the two Council areas. The Wild About Food project is aimed at celebrating locally sourced ingredients and is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund for a series of events.
Tied in to the themes of NI’s Year of Food and Drink the initiative will host workshops and cooking demos, foraging walks and fishing as part of its programme over the next five months.
Launched by the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough, Councillor Thomas Hogg and the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Billy Ashe, attendees were treated to a forage in local woodlands by experienced forager, Dermot Hughes. Local children from Woodburn Primary School, Carrickfergus and Ballynure Primary School joined in the fun with representatives from Tourism NI, Heritage Lottery Fund, local Councillors and community members.
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