02 May 2024

Northern Ireland’s Tourism Industry is Growing Green

Businesses across Northern Ireland complete Tourism Northern Ireland’s Destination Sustainability Training Programme

Photo Caption: Brian Connolly, Experience & Brand, Tourism NI, Marie Slattery, Facilitator Tourism Space (Front), David Gilliland, Managing Director, Brook Hall Estate & Gardens, Mary Rose Stafford, Executive Head of School Munster Technological University, Fiona Scott Hayward, Senior Researcher, Munster Teachnological University (back), Jess Hoyle, Experience & Brand Manager, Tourism NI.

Tourism Northern Ireland celebrates businesses completing its 12-week Destination Sustainability Training Programme with fifteen organisations across NI taking important steps towards becoming more sustainable. The celebration event was hosted by David Gilliland of Brook Hall Estate and Gardens in Derry, an eighteenth-century demesne and home to one of NI’s top arboretums.

The innovative 12-week programme created a new opportunity for visitor attractions and experiences to confidently showcase sustainable tourism practices across Northern Ireland through peer-to-peer learning and business mentoring to inspire collective sustainable action.

Having commenced in January 2024, the 12-week programme delivered by The Tourism Space empowered businesses to become advocates for sustainable tourism experiences in Northern Ireland and to feel confident in sustainability and climate action by supporting them to manage their energy, water and waste consumption.

Participating businesses included White River Charters, Finn Lough, National Museums Northern Ireland, Walk It Off NI, Strangford Lough Activity Centre, Dunfin Farm, Brook Hall Estate & Gardens, Gobbins Attraction, Long Meadow Cider, Following Seas, Life Adventure/Bike Mourne, Foyle Trails, Tracey's Farmhouse Kitchen, Titanic Belfast and East Coast Adventure.  

Some of the main outputs from the programme include the ability to measure carbon footprint and set meaningful targets for improvement, to have a Sustainability Action Plan, the ability to lead sustainable experience development and an understanding of Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), Agenda 2030 and how to take action towards meeting these goals.

The programme created a cohort of businesses within various destinations across Northern Ireland who can lead on sustainability and sustainable experience developments. It included a blend of online and in-person training, including a learning journey meeting sustainable businesses across the Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Geopark. The programme provided one-to-one mentoring support from expert practitioners, giving participants a holistic understanding of sustainability as well as a practical roadmap for ‘going green’ and reducing carbon emissions. Ten of the fifteen participating businesses have chosen to have their learning accredited by Munster Technological University.

Eimear Callaghan, Head of Experience and Industry Development at Tourism Northern Ireland said: “The purpose of the Destination Sustainability Training Programme was to empower businesses to activate positive contributions and make realistic changes to become more sustainable, which is so important for the longevity of our industry and the businesses within it.

“This pilot programme was hugely successful with a key output being the support provided to participant’s confidence in sharing their sustainability journey. Whilst there will be measurable benefits from a business perspective, the programme has also helped organisations to promote their sustainability initiatives in the tourism sphere, becoming increasingly attractive to visitors from key markets and in turn, supporting the development of the destination as an attractive place to visit.”