The Giant's Causeway_ North Antr

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					The Giant’s Causeway, North Antrim
Causeway Coast & Glens Tourism
 Tourism &
Hospitality

              19
                         Overview

                         Promoting a Worldwide Destination
 Overview




                         David Fanning




                                                                  Last year was another good year for          further in 2007, particularly from
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                  Northern Ireland tourism, as                 Europe and the United States.
                                                                  confirmed by the results of the                Consistent with findings presented
                                                                  board’s Tourism Barometer, a survey          in earlier waves of the Tourism
                                                                  of 400 tourism enterprises conducted         Barometer, the evidence suggests that
                                                                  by Tourism Development                       for most accommodation enterprises in
                          Northern Ireland Tourist Board          International and Webtourism,                Northern Ireland the past year
                          St Anne’s Court
                          59 North Street                         reinforcing other NITB statistics            witnessed an increase in the overall
                          Belfast                                 indicating significant growth in the         volume of bednights compared to
                          BT1 1NB                                                                              2005. Tourism enterprises are even
                          Tel: +44 (0)28 9023 1221                number of business and holiday
                          www.nitb.com                            visitors to Northern Ireland.                more positive than they were at the
                          www.discoverireland.com                                                              corresponding stage last season.
                                                                        he most recent market forecasts          In particular, a majority of hoteliers

                                                                  T     suggest that it is the growth in
                                                                        the high spend business and
                                                                  holiday segments that is likely to have
                                                                                                               forecast growth in overseas demand
                                                                                                               this year. On balance, owners and
                                                                                                               managers from other accommodation
                                                                  benefited accommodation and other            sectors were also optimistic regarding
                                                                  tourism enterprises.                         overseas prospects, albeit not to the
                                                                    Evidence from the NITB’s hotel             same extent as hoteliers.
                                                                  occupancy survey indicates that room
                                                                  occupancy for the January to October
                                                                  period increased from 63% to 65%             ... a competitive and appealing
                                                                  over the same period in 2005.                     destination in the global
                                                                    “These figures are extremely
                                                                                                                  business tourism market ...
                                                                  positive,” says NITB chief executive
                                                                  Alan Clarke.
                                                                    “Given initial forecasts from other
                                                                  surveys we have conducted recently, in          On the back of record visitor
                                                                  particular the Northern Ireland              numbers to the island of Ireland this
                                                                  Passenger Survey for 2006, we are            year, Tourism Ireland and the
                                                                  optimistic that visits are set to increase   Northern Ireland Tourist Board have
                                                                                                               developed a comprehensive series of
                                                                                                               overseas marketing plans and growth
                          Cruising into Belfast                      “It is a vindication of the               strategy for 2007.
                                                                  tremendous efforts we have made to              “Tourism Ireland aims to continue to
                          The first cruise ship to visit Belfast   attract the ships and showcase the           grow tourism to the island of Ireland,
                          this year arrived on Saturday 31        dynamic and evolving face of                 and within that, Northern Ireland, at a
                          March 2007.                             Belfast, and it is particularly              higher rate of growth than international
                             The Black Prince brought about       significant that major companies             tourism,” says Paul O’Toole, Tourism
                          400 visitors on the first of seven      such as Princess Cruises will be             Ireland chief executive.
                          visits scheduled for 2007.              returning to Belfast again and that             “2006 was a good year for overseas
                             Overall, between April and           so many of the ships coming into the         business to Northern Ireland and all
                          November 2007, it is expected that      port will be making several visits           indicators are that 2007 will be even
                          nearly 40,000 cruise passengers will    throughout the season.”                      better. We will be working hard to
                          come on 28 ships, generating up to         Joe O’Neill of the Port of Belfast        enable Northern Ireland tourism
                          £10m for the economy.                   says that the “incredibly busy”              businesses get their product and
                             The Cruise Belfast Initiative is a   summer season was great news for             message out into the overseas
                          partnership between the Belfast         the port.                                    marketplace more easily.
                          Visitor and Convention Bureau              “The fact that we have so many               “There will be a particular emphasis
                          (BVCB) and the Port of Belfast.         ships from world-leading companies           on developing e-marketing
                          Gerry Lennon of the BVCB says that      making return calls puts us on a par         opportunities for sales and distribution
                          Belfast has become an international     with ports across the UK and                 of the Northern Ireland tourism
                          cruise destination.                     Ireland.”                                    product in the e-shop window via our
                                                                                                               consumer website.
200
                                                                                                                   Overview




                                                                                                                                                                         Overview
                                                                                                                                                       Hastings Hotels




                                                                                                                                                                         Tourism & Hospitality
The Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, Co Down, at the foot of the Mourne Mountains


   “discoverireland.com attracts more                             “It also underlines the effectiveness    be ranked alongside the Grand
than 5 million unique visitors per                              of our marketing efforts which             Canyon, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and
annum and is available in 14                                    included the roll out of our new global    other major tourist spots as the fifth
languages, offering a truly global reach                        advertising campaign and consumer          most spectacular view in the world –
in terms of marketing and we are                                website, both of which have picked up      or, or indeed, that out-of-state visitors
actively encouraging Northern Ireland                           awards throughout the year.                would contribute £1m a day to the
tourism enterprises and product                                   “In Northern Ireland there have          economy in Northern Ireland.
providers to make themselves more                               been a number of excellent projects           “In addition to ongoing work on the
look-able and book-able to a                                    proposed by the Northern Ireland           five Signature Projects, we have
worldwide audience.”                                            Tourist Board. The Signature Projects      significant opportunities over the
   Last year also saw a root-and-branch                         – the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, the      coming year that include the
review by Tourism Ireland of the all-                           Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, the       promotion of our houses, castles and
important North American market                                 Walled City of Derry, the Mournes,         gardens, food tourism, the
which is showing excellent                                      and St. Patrick’s Country – all of these   Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and
holidaymaker growth of 20% into                                 will serve as iconic hooks with huge       business tourism.
Northern Ireland.                                               appeal for our target market. We hope         He says that there is a very real
   The review shows that the best                               that these projects will be brought to     sense that Northern Ireland is the
prospects for growth lie with frequent                          fruition.                                  place ‘of the moment’ for those
travellers to Europe, who are better-                             “They will undoubtedly help to fully     looking for something new to discover.
educated and better-off urban and                               realise Northern Ireland’s potential as       “Our recent ‘star performers’ have
suburban dwellers interested in the                             a world-class holiday destination,” says   been visitors from Europe and North
‘finer things’. Research also identified                        Mr O’Toole.                                America, with more direct air access
the latent potential of the Ulster Scots                          “Twelve months ago,” adds Mr             assisting growth, and the majority of
segment.                                                        Clarke, “who would have thought that       these visitors are motivated by our
   “2006 illustrated Northern Ireland’s                         Northern Ireland would be tipped as a      Signature Projects, stunning scenery,
continuing attractiveness as a holiday                          ‘must see destination’ by Lonely           and local culture.
destination.                                                    Planet, or that the Antrim Coast would        “We must be aware, however, of the
                                                                                                                                                                              201
                         Overview
 Overview




                         considerable potential that still exists




                                                                                                                    Northern Ireland Tourist Board
                                                                                                                                                     business tourism, NITB wishes to
 Tourism & Hospitality




                         closer to home in Great Britain and                                                                                         maximise its potential for Northern
                         the Republic of Ireland. The Republic                                                                                       Ireland and to ensure that we exploit
                         of Ireland, particularly, offers                                                                                            future opportunities and achieve the
                         untapped lucrative business for                                                                                             best return on investment for both the
                         Northern Ireland.                                                                                                           public and the private sector.”
                            “Everyone involved in the tourism                                                                                          Alan Clarke says that the action plan
                         industry in Northern Ireland has                                                                                            aims to enhance delivery by raising the
                         reason to look forward to the year                                                                                          standards of quality and service, and
                         ahead with renewed optimism.”                                                                                               to inspire all to compete through an
                            His assessment is supported by                                                                                           innovative, collaborative, and
                         government officials.                                                                                                       sustainable approach, building on
                            “The future for Northern Ireland                                                                                         Northern Ireland’s strengths.
                         tourism has never looked better,” says
                         Stephen Quinn, Permanent Secretary
                         at the Department for Enterprise,                                                                                              ... visits are set to increase
                         Trade & Investment.
                                                                                                                                                       further in 2007, particularly
                            “It is increasingly being recognised
                         by highly influential tourist                Alan Clarke                                                                      from Europe and the United
                         publications – the most recent being         NITB is business tourism and both,                                                            States ...
                         the Lonely Planet Guide, which rates         together with the regional tourism
                         Northern Ireland as a ‘must see’             organisations in Northern Ireland,
                         destination for 2007. Belfast was also       have devoted considerable effort to                                               “Northern Ireland is operating in an
                         ranked in the guide’s list of the top 10     identifying potential visitors and to                                          extremely competitive and commercial
                         cities that tourists should visit. This is   helping Northern Ireland venues –                                              market place,” he explains. “There are
                         great recognition and we must build          specialised convention centres and                                             many challenges to capture and
                         on it.”                                      hotels and other facilities – promote                                          increase market share from well-
                                                                      themselves in the best possible light to                                       supported global competition.”
                                                                      conference and convention organisers,                                             The goal, he adds, is to position
                          ... create a world-class tourism            and a wide range of professional and                                           Northern Ireland as a competitive and
                                      product ...                     business societies and associations.                                           appealing destination in the global
                                                                         In recent years, Northern Ireland                                           business tourism market through a
                                                                      has made a major investment in visitor                                         spirit of collaboration between all of
                            He says that he is confident that the     and conference amenities. The board’s                                          the strategic partners and
                         Tourism Ireland and NITB marketing           business tourism unit makes the case                                           stakeholders.
                         plans will ensure that the positive          clearly: “We’ve got it all. Vibrant cities,                                       Visitors to Northern Ireland are
                         trend already evident in the Northern        first-class hotels and convention                                              reaching the two million mark, which
                         Ireland tourism sector will continue.        centres, low costs, excellent transport                                        is fantastic news for a small destination
                            “As well as focusing on our key           links, welcoming people, and superb                                            such as Northern Ireland, but that is a
                         markets of Great Britain and North           leisure and visitor attractions set in                                         mere drop in the ocean in global terms
                         America, we must redouble our efforts        stunning scenery.                                                              and the market for tourism spend is
                         to increase the number of visitors from         NITB’s business tourism action plan                                         not only a global market, it is also
                         mainland Europe.                             was formally launched in 2005 and has                                          fiercely competitive.
                            “We will continue to support the          achieved significant success over the                                             On the evidence of the past year,
                         Northern Ireland Tourist Board in its        past two years. Discretionary business                                         and the powerful plans and strategies
                         work to create a world-class tourism         tourism contributed £30m to the                                                unveiled for the year ahead, Tourism
                         product. We will also continue to            economy in 2004 and this figure has                                            Ireland and the Northern Ireland
                         support Tourism Ireland in its efforts       risen consistently each year since.                                            Tourist Board are well on the way to
                         to raise Northern Ireland’s profile in          “Business tourism attracts high-                                            achieving their goals – and to making
                         countries such as France, Germany,           spend year-round visitors and has been                                         tourism an even greater contributor to
                         the Nordic region, and the new and           identified as a ‘Winning Theme’ within                                         the regional economy.
                         developing markets in Asia.”                 NITB’s Strategic Framework for
                            One of the important ‘theme’              Action,” says Mr Clarke.                                                       David Fanning is Editor of Corporate
                         markets for both Tourism Ireland the            “Recognising the importance of                                              Northern Ireland
202
                                                                 Signature Projects




                                                                                                                                                       Signature Projects
Signature Projects Developing Strongly
David Fanning




Led by the Northern Ireland Tourist        walls – and a culture and animation        There is continuing debate about the




                                                                                                                                                       Tourism & Hospitality
Board in partnership with Ilex, the        programme.                                 boundary of the area and the inclusion
co-ordinating body for Integrated             The Titanic Quarter next stage plan     or exclusion of certain towns.
Development Funding (IDF), and             is being considered by the Big Lottery       Following the well-received first
project commissioners Derry City           Fund and the project plans are             phase development of the seafront
Council, the city’s Walled City            expected to be completed by 31 May         regeneration scheme, Down District
Signature Project is making great          2007.                                      Council is preparing to extend its
strides and Phase One has recently            Meanwhile, work is being carried        promenade plans.
                                           out on the Harland & Wolff Drawing           The Mourne Heritage Trust has
been completed, with the successful
                                           Offices, on the Thompson Dock &            recently launched a study of tourism in
accomplishment of a number of
                                           Pump House, and on interpretation          Mourne, indicating that tourism could
initiatives, including extensive visitor   information.                               generate around £72m and create
signage and orientation, the                  A technical study to place signage on   2,300 additional jobs for the locality.
regeneration of tourism attractions        the St Patrick/Christian Heritage trail      The majority of the brown-and-
such as the Tower Museum and the           is underway. The route runs from           white signs on the Causeway Coastal
Armada exhibition, as well as the          Bangor in North Down through               Route have been installed, marking the
production of a conservation plan          Downpatrick and Newry to the               completion of approximately
for the historic city walls.               Cathedral City of Armagh. There are a      £700,000-worth of investment in
                                           number of heritage loops for visitors to   directional visitor signage along the
       s the only completely walled

A                                          explore additional Christian heritage      route.
       city in Ireland, Londonderry is     sites along the way, such as Nendrum,        The next phase of development
       recognised as an authentic          Holywood Priory, Dromore Cathedral,        along the scenic drive will be to
tourism treasure. £9.1m of IDF             and St Patrick’s Stone.                    improve the visitor experience. Initially
funding has been earmarked by the             Due to the level of interest in the     this proposal seeks to enhance
Northern Ireland government to carry       Mournes, an area of outstanding            interpretation at anchor attractions
out Phase Two, entailing the               natural beauty, a recent public            and service sites along the route and
implementation of a city lighting          consultation was extended by some          throughout the region.
scheme, a built heritage programme –       months and the collation of findings
which will include the restoration of a    from all public meetings, postal votes,    David Fanning is Editor of Corporate
number of buildings along the city         and web forums has been undertaken.        Northern Ireland
Visitors at Derry’s walls
                                                                                                                                  Derry City Council




                                                                                                                                                            203
                                                           Armagh Down
 Armagh Down




                                                           Creating New Dimensions in Regional Tourism
                                                           Michael O’Hanlon




                                                                                                                               The Armagh Down Tourism                       “Among the SFA’s priorities was to
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                                                                               Partnership was created as the first       create more meaningful regional
                                                                                                                               of the strengthened tourism delivery       tourism platforms, whereby the public
                                                                                                                               structures for Northern Ireland.           and private sectors could come
                                                                                                                               Embracing the public and private           together to help deliver the strategic
                                                                                                                               sectors across seven local council         framework’s details at a local level.
                                                                                                                               areas – Ards , Armagh, Banbridge,          The Kingdoms of Down partnership
                                                                                                                               Craigavon, Down, Newry and                 was already in operation, with a
                                                                                                                               Mourne, and North Down – the body          number of councils involved. From
                                                                                                                               was launched in November 2005.             that lead we approached other local
                                                                                                                                                                          authorities across the geography of
                                                              Armagh Down Tourism                                                    he councils involved represent a     Armagh and Down, examining what
                                                              Partnership
                                                              40 West Street
                                                              Newtownards
                                                              BT23 4EN.
                                                              Tel: +44 (0)28 9182 2881
                                                                                                                               T     wide political and cultural
                                                                                                                                     spectrum and bringing them
                                                                                                                               together for the first time in a working
                                                                                                                                                                          were the merits of promoting the
                                                                                                                                                                          wider region – in effect, an easily
                                                                                                                                                                          identifiable sub-region within
                                                              www.armaghanddown.com                                            partnership to develop tourism across      Northern Ireland.”
                                                                                                                               one unified area has been hailed as a         The Armagh Down Tourism
                                                                                                                               compelling achievement.                    Partnership (ADTP) has since then
                                                                                                                                 What that new partnership has            played a major role in developing the
                                                                                                                               brought together are two of Northern       immense tourist potential of what is
                                                                                                                               Ireland’s most historic and scenic         one of Ulster’s most culturally diverse
                                                                                                                               regions, in what is widely recognized      regions.
                                                                                                                               as one of the most significantly              All the vital elements that go to
                                                                                                                               innovative developments in tourism in      make up a successful tourism
                                                                                                                               Northern Ireland for decades.              destination have been incorporated
                                                                                                                                 Chief executive Mark Mohan                           .
                                                                                                                                                                          into ADTP It’s a one-stop shop, not
                                                                                                                               describes how the partnership began.       only for visitors’ advice and
                                                                                                                                 “In 2004 the Northern Ireland            information but also for those needing
                                                                                                                               Tourist Board (NITB) produced a            guidance in developing the
                                                                                                                               Strategic Framework for Action (SFA),      organisation’s tourism product.
                                                                                                                               which was a forward-plan of the years         “We basically formed a new
                                                                                                                               2004 to 2007.                              company – a regional tourism
                                                           Saul Church, two miles outside Downpatrick, Co Down – a replica of St Patrick’s first church in Ireland        partnership. We differ in a vitally
                                                                                                                                                                          subtle sense from what was Kingdoms
                                                                                                                                                                          of Down or the regional tourism
                                                                                                                                                                          organisations,” explains Mr Mohan.
                                                                                                                                                                             “Our primary remit as a regional
                                                                                                                                                                          tourism partnership is marketing and
                                                                                                                                                                          communications at a sub-regional
                                                                                                                                                                          level, yet in terms of other components
                                                                                                                                                                          of business tourism, we try to
                                                                                                                                                                          coordinate uniformly across the two
                                                                                                                                                                          counties and seven councils all aspects
                                                                                                                                                                          of our product development: visitor
                                                                                                                                                                          servicing; business skills; marketing
                                                                                                                                                                          and research; intelligence gathering;
                                                                                                                                                                          and industry engagement. The RTP
                                                                                                                                                                          represents a holistic process.”
                         Armagh Down Tourism Partnership




                                                                                                                                                                             One of the vital reasons why the
                                                                                                                                                                          partnership works so well is that the
                                                                                                                                                                          natural correspondence between the
                                                                                                                                                                          two areas has become its competitive
                                                                                                                                                                          advantage in addition to being its
                                                                                                                                                                          point of visitor attraction.
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                                                                                               Armagh Down




                                                                                                                                                                                             Armagh Down
   “All the elements of the Armagh




                                                                                                                                                           Armagh Down Tourism Partnership




                                                                                                                                                                                             Tourism & Hospitality
Down product fit almost symmetrically.
We have tourism themes that are
common to both – Christian Heritage
and St Patrick, for example, and
homes and gardens. That makes it
easier for us as a collaborative group
to work together.”
   Of all the regional tourism delivery
structures in Northern Ireland, the
Armagh Down one has the largest buy-
in from the private sector, with over
600 members providing a huge range
of facilities for visitors. Those 600
members are invited by ADTP to
participate directly in the new
organization’s activities in an open-
door atmosphere of cooperation and
mutual consultation. In that way, they
can understand how the partnership
works and adapt their own tourism
                                             St Patrick’s Church of Ireland and St Patrick’s Roman Catholic cathedrals, Armagh
product to the ADTP’s vision of the
tourism experience, so giving it added       other Christian sites across the two                               the seventeenth of March, green beer,
value.                                       counties – about 28 key sites in all.”                             and a big parade – and that’s how
   Quantifiable statistics for the return-     Work has already been done on                                    quite a lot of visitors and people
to-the-economy importance and                developing the interrelated St Patrick                             generally view the whole concept of
potential of Armagh and Down are             and Christian Heritage projects into an                            St Patrick.”
also impressive.                             internationally recognised attraction,                                The ADTP is trying to send out a
   “Tourism in the area now,” says           with modern visitor facilities and                                 message that reflects the more spiritual
Mr Mohan, quoting NITB local                 interactive interpretation. The plans                              aspect of St Patrick – such as his
authority figures, “is valued at more        include a St Patrick Trail, which will be                          importance in bringing Christianity to
than £125m.”                                 a circular route with signage, linking                             Ireland. People coming to the region
                                             Downpatrick and Armagh and many                                    will be encouraged to follow, literally,
                                             other sites throughout the region                                  in the footsteps of St Patrick (and
  ... much more viable through               associated with the saint.                                         other saints).
  the collective strength of the               “The Trail’s overall theme is                                       “They can walk around the sites still
          partnership ...                    Christian Heritage. Some pre-                                      associated with St Patrick and which
                                             Christian sites, important in a religious                          still exist to this day in Armagh and
                                             context, will be included in the route                             Down – such as where he built his first
  The Armagh Down area has the               too,” adds Mr Mohan.                                               church, at Saul near Downpatrick, or
distinction of having within its               An important part of the Trail’s                                 where he is buried. What does St
boundaries two of the five Signature         eventual scope will involve ADTP                                   Patrick mean in spiritual terms? That’s
Projects awarded to places identified        working in a cross-border capacity to                              one of the central questions we are
as having the greatest potential for the     expand the theme into Counties                                     setting out to answer on this Trail.”
development of Northern Ireland’s            Monaghan, Louth, and Meath – all                                      In addition to promoting Christian
tourism product. The St Patrick and          areas that have their own deep                                     Heritage as such, ADTP sees this
Christian Heritage Trail and the             historical connections with Christian                              niche activity as being the avenue into
planned Mournes National Park will           and pre-Christian cultures.                                        other forms of visitor relaxation.
be given priority during the first five        It’s a challenge to promote Christian                               As an example of this, Mr Mohan
years of ADTP   .                            Heritage, particularly St Patrick, in a                            cites how tours that are specifically
  “The focus of the St Patrick’s             new way, admits Mr Mohan.                                          Christian-Heritage will be travelling
project will be the two centres of             “North Americans would be one of                                 through areas with other attractions.
Downpatrick and Armagh city. But we          our target audiences for this theme.                                  “It makes perfect sense that if we
will be linking into that process all the    For many Americans, St Patrick means                               have a coach tour passing along on a
                                                                                                                                                                                                  205
                         Armagh Down
 Armagh Down




                                                                                                                                                             Armagh Down Tourism Partnership
 Tourism & Hospitality




                         Mourne Mountains

                         St Patrick’s route that people would        hear traditional music in a real            activities, that are as much being
                         want to see places like Mount Stewart       nineteenth-century bar if they stay         considered for people’s health criteria
                         House and Gardens, Castleward, or           overnight.                                  as for their intrinsic sport value. A lot
                         the Ulster Folk and Transport                  “Tourists want to be involved in this    of people now want to be involved in
                         Museum, which all have a related            local-centred way and have that extra       environment-linked activities that are
                         heritage and environment interest.”         sense of place. But we have to ensure       not just fun in themselves but also
                            Perhaps nowhere in Northern Ireland      too that the tourist product is right for   good for them, should that be
                         will a strategy of visitor distribution     them; that the food, the                    hillwalking, cycling – or even more
                         work better than in Armagh and Down.        entertainment, and the hospitality are      strenuous ones like mountain-boarding
                            “All too often coach tour operators      all available.”                             in the Mournes.”
                         have this idea of ‘doing Ireland in a          Spectacular and unique landscapes           In time, the kind of tourism business
                         week’, leaving Dublin, then coming up       have always defined Down and                that once would have been thought of
                         to do the east coast – Belfast and the      Armagh’s most visible asset – a fact        as marginal or merely sustainable in
                         Causeway Coast bundled together,            that has led to a huge park being           Counties Down and Armagh will
                         with Derry quickly followed by              proposed for the Mournes.                   become much more viable through the
                         Letterkenny, and so on.                        The first such park in Northern          collective strength of the partnership.
                            “We’re creating a product that will      Ireland, it will stretch from Carlingford      “Guided walks in the Mournes are
                         slow down that speeding tour coach          Lough to near Ballynahinch and              an example of how local people are
                         approach, with accommodation a key          include not only the Mountains of           becoming part of ADTP’s working
                         factor.”                                    Mourne but also Slieve Croob,               structure,” says Mark Mohan.
                            What that means for ADTP is              thousands of acres of forest, and the          “The growing number of visitors
                         developing a tourism experience to          long, varied coastline.                     means that people are offering their
                         appeal to visitors who don’t want to be        “The second Signature Project            expertise and local knowledge to guide
                         hustled around an entire region in half     project is the National Park, currently     individuals or small groups around the
                         a day or in a few digitally-paced hours.    at the planning stage. Related to this      Mournes.”
                         Visitors are more likely to be              major development, ADTP has
                         persuaded to participate in a trail walk,   commissioned activity providers who         Michael O’Hanlon is a freelance writer
                         go out to eat in a local restaurant, or     are looking at a range of outdoor           and journalist
206
                                                                       Causeway Coast & Glens




                                                                                                                                                               Causeway Coast & Glens
                                 Offering World-class Diverse Visitor Experience
                                 Michael O’Hanlon




                                                                       Most first-time visitors to the Antrim     in the local tourism product, we are




                                                                                                                                                               Tourism & Hospitality
                                                                       Coast Road are amazed by its beauty        now making our impact felt around
                                                                       and the variety of experiences along       the world.”
                                                                       the eighty miles of its winding              In conjunction with the Northern
                                                                       coastline journey from Belfast to          Ireland Tourist Board, CCG has
                                                                       County Londonderry. Now, the views         invested substantially in the route,
                                    Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism                                              upgrading its tourism category to ‘The
                                    11 Lodge Road                      along the road have been given a
                                    Coleraine                          new and ingenious structure, while         Essential Irish Journey’.
                                    BT52 1LU
                                                                       an appreciative media endorsement            Jason Powell, marketing executive
                                    Tel: +44 (0)28 7032 7720
                                    www.causewaycoastandglens.com      is taking its global reputation up to a    with CCG, explains how the flurry of
                                                                                                                  new interest developed.
                                                                       completely new level.
                                                                                                                    “The Causeway Coastal Route – one
                                                                              pecifically, the Northern Ireland   of NITB’s five Signature Tourism

                                                                       S      Tourist Board (NITB) has
                                                                              invested substantially in the
                                                                       route, which it has redefined as The
                                                                                                                  Projects – originated out of the
                                                                                                                  Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism
                                                                                                                  Masterplan, published in 2003.
                                                                       Causeway Coastal Route.                      “The key to the Route’s success is
                                                                          A survey carried out in the autumn      that it will give Northern Ireland a
                                                                       of 2006 selected the coast road as one     product that has international standout
                                                                       of the top five spectacular views in the   appeal – a destination distinction that
                                                                       world – above weighty rival locations      people will see and say to themselves:
                                                                       like the Grand Canyon in the United        ‘Yes, we’ve heard of the Garden Route
                                                                       States and Angel Falls in Venezuela.       in South Africa and the Pacific
                                                                          The developments are particularly       Highway in California. The Causeway
                                                                       welcomed by Causeway Coast and             Coastal Route in Northern Ireland
                                                                       Glens (CCG), the regional tourism          compares well with all of these high-
                                                                       partnership responsible for the area.      profile scenic roads’.”
                                                                          “We all know how beautiful the
                                                                       region is,” says CCG manager Don
                                                                       Wilmont. “With a growing confidence         ... a world-class product with
                                 Coastal road, Co Antrim                                                             international standards of
                                                                                                                      service and pricing that’s
                                                                                                                   competitive in global terms ...


                                                                                                                     Essentially, the road route will act as
                                                                                                                  a touring map, that can be used by
                                                                                                                  drivers or those taking coach tours.
                                                                                                                  But the choices revolve around the
                                                                                                                  idea that the visitor can stop off at
                                                                                                                  points that interest them and get back
                                                                                                                  on when they please.
                                                                                                                     “For the most part, it will most likely
                                                                                                                  be used by those who rent a car to
                                                                                                                  travel the route. There will, however,
                                                                                                                  be opportunities for coach companies
                                                                                                                  and groups organisers to integrate the
                                                                                                                  route into their main product. We are
Causeway Coast & Glens Tourism




                                                                                                                  currently in discussions with an
                                                                                                                  operator out of Dublin who is keen to
                                                                                                                  have his coach tour include the route
                                                                                                                  as part of their Northern Ireland
                                                                                                                  itinerary.”
                                                                                                                                                                    207
                                                           Causeway Coast & Glens
 Causeway Coast & Glens


                          Causeway Coast & Glens Tourism




                                                                                                                                                       “For people who come from long-
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                                                                                                    haul countries like Australia and the
                                                                                                                                                    United States, seeing these overlooked
                                                                                                                                                    areas will give them a more holistic
                                                                                                                                                    experience and a better idea of what
                                                                                                                                                    we are all about,” adds Mr Powell.
                                                                                                                                                       “Anyone driving in and around the
                                                                                                                                                    coast will get to see the real Northern
                                                                                                                                                    Ireland. They won’t just be going to
                                                                                                                                                    tourist areas; they’ll be travelling
                                                                                                                                                    inland to some of the less-visited
                                                                                                                                                    districts within the region.”
                                                                                                                                                       Available, regular, and coordinated
                                                                                                                                                    transport is another aim of the
                                                                                                                                                    Causeway Coastal Route plan.


                                                                                                                                                     Anyone driving in and around
                                                                                                                                                    the coast will get to see the real
                                                                                                                                                           Northern Ireland


                                                                                                                                                       The Giant’s Causeway has for many
                                                                                                                                                    years been the centrepiece of any tour,
                                                                                                                                                    a tradition that CCG is keen to
                                                                                                                                                    sustain, but it also now wants people
                                                                                                                                                    to be aware that getting to other sites
                                                                                                                                                    and venues will be just as convenient
                                                                                                                                                    and possible.
                                                           Carrickfergus Castle and Marina, Co Antrim
                                                                                                                                                       “Hopefully too, those people who
                                                                                                                                                    do visit beyond the Giant’s Causeway
                                                              A major aspect of marketing the new       coast through to Limavady, where it         will tell their relatives and friends
                                                           route will be to encourage all travellers,   finishes. There is a lot to see along the   about their experiences, and it is more
                                                           whether drivers or passengers, to take       total journey, which is about 120 miles     likely that those visitors will return. If
                                                           full advantage of the sights along the       in all.                                     they are only here on a short break – a
                                                           way, as Mr Powell explains.                     “In between, there are a number of       ‘taster’ tour – then by doing the
                                                              “One of the main reasons for              different loops that take in Island         Causeway Coastal Route they will see
                                                           accentuating the Route is to allow           Magee, the Glens of Antrim, Torr            the wealth of attractions and activities.
                                                           visitors to see the rest of the Causeway     Head, Binevenagh Mountain, and the          They will realize that a single trip is
                                                           Coast and Glens region. What we              Roe and Bann Valleys. So, the more          not enough; that they’ll need to come
                                                           discovered is that the Giant’s               organized route will allow people the       back again.
                                                           Causeway and Bushmills Distillery            opportunity to see the whole region –          “Examples of the indigenous places
                                                           combined were becoming a kind of             both coastal and inland.”                   we are trying to encourage people to
                                                           ‘honeypot’. Most visitors were coming           Travellers who visit Belfast,            go and see are Carrickfergus Castle,
                                                           in to see these two major attractions,       Londonderry, and other more well-           Mussenden Temple, Patterson’s Spade
                                                           then leaving again, without getting the      known places will be amazed at what         Mill, and Arthur Cottage near
                                                           chance to see much else in the area.”        they have been missing. The nine            Cullybackey. These are all attractions
                                                              The route will make it easier for         Glens of Antrim have their own              that people who came here may have
                                                           CCG to redirect people into other            unique atmosphere, with wild greenery       overlooked.”
                                                           parts of the region that are equally         and photogenic waterfalls and pools;           That extra-dimensional vision is
                                                           interesting and worth seeing, right          the three-miles-long Benone Beach           reinforced by the literature produced
                                                           from where the Route starts, at              outside Limavady is one of the best in      by CCG for its 2007 season. The
                                                           Newtownabbey, all the way along the          the world.                                  Visitor Guide has the kind of true-life
208
                                                                 Causeway Coast & Glens




                                                                                                                                                                                                  Causeway Coast & Glens
high-definition photographs that have                              and do the Route within two, three,                with international standards of service




                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tourism & Hospitality
to be seen to be believed – and the                                five, or seven nights. People can                  and pricing that’s competitive in global
pages are uncluttered by long blurby                               choose how detailed their trip will be.            terms.”
text or flowery descriptions. In other                                “We want people to experience the                 The Causeway Coastal Route also
words, the pictures tell the story.                                unique culture and heritage as well as             provides the link to two other NITB
   Carrickfergus Castle dominates the                              taking in the sights. People going on              Signature Projects – the Walled City of
local marina like a computer-generated                             holidays want to participate in                    Derry and Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
movie set; yet its history is very real.                           different activities, whether that’s                 CCG has developed a global
The helicopter view of Giant’s Head,                               horse-riding, golf, or simply walking.             outlook that in recent months has
Portrush, captures what could be the                               Collating information about what’s on              partly taken shape by working with
chalky-cliffs backdrop for a BBC                                   on a Friday night in, say, Cushendall              others across the visitor market. In
television period drama.                                           with what’s happening on Saturday                  November they spent time with people
   The Causeway Coastal Route map                                  afternoon in Limavady, with which                  familiar with another famous stretch of
contains the same high-values design                               traditional restaurants are open when,             scenery – South Africa’s Garden Route
details and startlingly good images,                               is what we aim to do.”                             – sharing information and ideas with
with fifteen key sights like Carrick-a-                               While it’s good news that the region            them, as well as looking at ways in
Rede Rope Bridge and Slemish                                       should receive favourable comparison               which they can attract to the Causeway
Mountain incisively profiled.                                      with the best the world has to offer,              Coast some of those high-end tourists
Distinctively clear colour-coded lines                             Don Wilmont points out that it also                who have enjoyed all that South Africa
show both the main route around the                                means the region needs to operate at a             has to offer.
coast and additional scenic routes,                                more sophisticated level – a challenge               Now, Causeway Cause and Glens
such as Glenshesk near Ballycastle.                                CCG welcomes.                                      Tourism is looking at various other
   As Jason Powell points out, planning                               “I am thrilled to see the Causeway              international destinations with a view
versatility is one of the major                                    Coastal Route win international                    to cooperating in a major promotion
advantages of using the Causeway                                   acclaim, but this is a reminder that               called ‘Best Drives Of The World.’
Coastal Route as a guide.                                          travellers compare us with the best out
   “Visitors have a whole destination                              there. To compete most effectively we              Michael O’Hanlon is a freelance writer
now at their fingertips. They can come                             have to deliver our world-class product            and journalist
Arthur Cottage, Cullybackey, Co Antrim – ancestral home of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st President of the United States
                                                                                                                                                                 Causeway Coast & Glens Tourism




                                                                                                                                                                                                       209
                                                    Limavady

                                                    Providing Subtle Scenery and Charismatic Shopping
 Limavady




                                                    Michael O’Hanlon




                                                                                                                      The Borough of Limavady has a               status and is well-known for its safety
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                                                                      uniquely diverse identity, surrounded       and cleanliness.
                                                                                                                      by unspoilt subtle scenery and                Benone Beach is so long that it
                                                                                                                      recognised widely for a market town         actually spans two boroughs, stretching
                                                                                                                      that retains most of its 20th-century       into Coleraine Borough Council.
                                                                                                                      main street independent shops.              Valerie Richmond, Director of
                                                                                                                      Three major festivals that combine          Development at Limavady Borough
                                                                                                                      local and international themes add a        Council, explains how they are
                                                       Development Directorate                                                                                    working together with a number of
                                                       Limavady Borough Council                                       cultural and social dimension more
                                                       7 Connell Street                                               typical of a major European city than       partner organisations to maintain and
                                                       Limavady                                                                                                   improve standards.
                                                       BT48 OHA                                                       a regional town.
                                                       Tel: +44 (0)28 7776 0304                                                                                     “Beaches across the North Coast are
                                                       www.limavady.gov.uk                                                  ooking to the future, Limavady        an integral element of our tourism

                                                                                                                      L     Borough Council is developing a
                                                                                                                            ten-year tourism strategy that will
                                                                                                                      encapsulate the photogenic beauty and
                                                                                                                                                                  industry. Good management practice
                                                                                                                                                                  and safe beaches are important to us.
                                                                                                                                                                  Working closely with organizations
                                                                                                                      spectacular scale of the natural            such as Coleraine Borough Council,
                                                                                                                      landscape, capture the richness of the      the National Trust, and the emergency
                                                                                                                      area’s culture and heritage, and share      services we aim to ensure consistency
                                                                                                                      the diversity of outdoor recreational       of approach and the ability to react
                                                                                                                      opportunities with a wider audience.        quickly to any given situation within
                                                                                                                        Twelve miles outside town is Benone       the area.”
                                                                                                                      Beach, a totally sandy strand seven
                                                                                                                      miles long, framed immediately by
                                                                                                                      dramatic sand dunes and in the middle        ... developing tourism, culture,
                                                                                                                      distance by the impressive Benevenagh       and the arts has become central
                                                                                                                      Mountain. The beach has consistently
                                                                                                                      been awarded European Blue Flag             to Limavady Borough Council’s
                                                    Banagher Glen in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains – a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
                                                                                                                                                                        overall economic plan ...


                                                                                                                                                                     Parking is available at the well-
                                                                                                                                                                  managed Benone Tourist Complex,
                                                                                                                                                                  from which visitors can walk a few
                                                                                                                                                                  hundred yards down a quiet twisty
                                                                                                                                                                  wooden path straight to the sand. The
                                                                                                                                                                  complex itself has a 100-pitch caravan
                                                                                                                                                                  park, children’s pool, hard tennis
                                                                                                                                                                  courts, golf driving range, golf course
                                                                                                                                                                  and a café, as well as an information-
                                                                                                                                                                  packed front office. There is also a
                                                                                                                                                                  ferry from Magilligan Point across to
                                                                                                                                                                  Donegal for those who want to spend
                                                                                                                                                                  an afternoon in Greencastle; the
                                                                                                                                                                  roundtrip takes half an hour.
                                                                                                                                                                     Visitors who want an intriguing
                                                                                                                                                                  snapshot of Limavady’s social past can
                                                                                                                                                                  visit the Green Lane Museum,
                                                                                                                                                                  situated in Roe Valley Country Park,
                                                                                                                                                                  just two miles outside the town along
                         Limavady Borough Council




                                                                                                                                                                  the quirkily named Dogleap Road.
                                                                                                                                                                     “This is really our local museum,
                                                                                                                                                                  built in a beautiful setting. It has a lot
                                                                                                                                                                  of information, artefacts, and
210
                                                                                                                         Limavady




                                                                                                                                                                                    Limavady
photographs reflecting the culture and




                                                                                                                                                         Limavady Borough Council




                                                                                                                                                                                    Tourism & Hospitality
heritage of the area as it was in the
19th and early 20th centuries,” says
Ms Richmond.
  “We’re currently planning to add to
the museums’s collection. Through our
partnership with the Causeway
Museum Service, we’ll be hoping to
build up Green Lane’s displays and
share these between there and
museums in other boroughs.”
  Eventually, she says, another more
elaborate heritage centre will be
incorporated into a new building in
Limavady itself.
  “Planning approval is now in place
for a new civic centre – to be open by
2009 – that will integrate a museum,
an arts centre, and a tourist
information centre, as well as provide
a central venue for groups and              Dogleap Stages Rally – one of several motor sport events each year in Limavady
organizations wishing to use it for
exhibitions, events, or cultural            roots here. In 1851, Jane Ross, a local                          accommodation and transport through
evenings.”                                  teacher, transcribed the melody as                               its website.
  The new civic centre would in effect      played by a fiddler she happened to                                 Staged in October over three days,
become the focal point for many of          hear in the main square. The air later                           the Roe Valley Folk Festival features
the arts events and gatherings in the       had the famous words set to it.                                  traditional stars such as Cara Dillon –
town. Part of its vision is a piazza          Concerts by big-name contemporary                              herself a native of the borough – and
where outside entertainment would           acoustic and folk acts add to the                                concentrates on promoting the best of
take place during the summer, neatly        overall sense of community fun and                               semi-professional musicians in lively
dovetailing too with festivals,             recreation. But they are not the only                            bar sessions that are more often than
maximizing the scope of their               show in town.                                                    not impromptu.
performances.                                 “Music is certainly its focal point,                              “The council supports all three
  Social and community events figure        but this year we’ve actually built a                             festivals, which is important – there’s a
                                                                                                             lot of community involvement in
                                                                                                             organizing the jazz and blues and folk
                                                                                                             ones,” says Ms Richmond. “That
                                                                                                             means there’s a lot of support from
                                                                                                             businesses too.”
                                                                                                                The net effects of these festivals is
large in Limavady’s arts calendar.          huge number of other events around                               to bring visitors into the town and to
Three major summer and autumn               it, including a rock music competition                           disseminate the news to others that
festivals highlight the best of local and   and a ‘Tribute to Danny Boy’ night,                              Limavady is a super place to spend
international performers in different       with storytelling, comedy, and dance.”                           quality time.
music genres and offer visitors the            The Limavady Jazz and Blues                                      “The attendance figures for the
chance to experience the range of bars      Festival, held each June, celebrated its                         festivals have increased each time. So
and restaurants in the town.                10th anniversary last year, with stars                           there is a definite word-of-mouth spin-
   “The big festival from a strictly        like Jacqui Dankworth gracing the                                off effect. People are hearing about
tourism perspective is the Danny Boy        programme and kicking off with the                               Limavady out there.”
Festival, which has been going for just     town’s own Guinness Experience                                      A distinctive feature of the town is
a few years. We look forward to this        Band. This unique four-day festival                              its many independently owned and run
becoming an international event. In         uses a network of bars and community                             shops. Although there are a few
2007 it will be held in May.”               venues to stage the acts. Its                                    supermarkets, there’s no mall. On any
   The ‘Danny Boy’ song legend has its      hardworking volunteers can organise                              weekend, the streets are packed with
                                                                                                                                                                                         211
                         Limavady
 Limavady




                                                                                                                                                           Limavady Borough Council
 Tourism & Hospitality




                         Limavady and the Roe Valley

                         people going in and out of real main-      activities specific to the coastal region   about how best to encourage these
                         street stores – the butchers, the fruit-   of Limavady brough. But the roads           recreations or sports are ongoing as
                         and-veg shop, or the bookstore.            leading out to the coast and all around     part of the ten-year tourism strategy.”
                            If locals take this for granted,        the town lend themselves to the simple         Developing tourism, culture, and the
                         visitors, especially north Americans,      pleasure of driving itself. In early        arts has become central to Limavady
                         are intrigued by this individualistic      August, professional drivers from           Borough Council’s overall economic
                         town centre atmosphere.                    Ireland and the United Kingdom take         plan.
                            “Yes, it’s amazing the number of        to the mountain and forest roads for           Attracting short-break visitors who
                         people who have spoken to me and           the Dogleap Stages Rally.                   appreciate the landscape and the
                         commented about these unique and              A new tourism sport is being             friendly ambience of the town is the
                         often quaint shops,” says Ms Richmond.     introduced and supported by the             main objective and challenge for
                         “They’re so different, and you don’t       council, as Valerie Richmond explains.      Valerie Richmond’s department.
                         find much like them anywhere else.”           “Biker tourism is what we’d call a          “Here in Limavady we are located
                            For those people who take breaks in     niche tourism activity. At the moment       between two of Northern Ireland’s
                         Limavady, there is an excellent range      there are very few facilities for bikers,   greatest tourist attractions – the
                         of accommodation to choose from –          yet this is a big-spend area. We want to    Giant’s Causeway and Derry’s walled
                         from the listed Georgian originality of    make sure that our bed-and-breakfast        city. In the past, people tended to pass
                         Drumcovitt House in Feeny or the           accommodation can cater for their           through on route to either one. That’s
                         unusual facility at Cashel Lake View,      needs.”                                     increasingly not the case, and what we
                         (Dungiven), which has a trout fishery         She adds that the council is very        hope to do is get more visitors to stop
                         annexed to it, right up to the four-star   much into looking at adventure tourism.     here and enjoy a different side of the
                         luxury of the Radisson Roe Park               “Given the natural resources and         north west experience.”
                         Hotel, secluded by one of the best         space we have in Limavady, activities
                         18-hole parkland golf course around.       like mountain biking and canoeing are       Michael O’Hanlon is a freelance writer
                            Windsurfing is just one of the          logical ones to develop. Discussions        and journalist
212
                                                                                                                                                      Derry

                                      Growing Derry’s Profile Worldwide
                                      Michael O’Hanlon




                                                                                                                                                                                                         Derry
                                                                               Since Derry’s walls were designated




                                                                                                                                                                   Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau




                                                                                                                                                                                                         Tourism & Hospitality
                                                                               as a Signature Tourism Project (STP)
                                                                               by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board
                                                                               in 2004, the Derry Visitor and
                                                                               Convention Bureau and its partners
                                                                               in Derry City Council have been
                                                                               collaborating on a sequence of
                                                                               imaginative tourism developments
                                                                               to ensure that the city can make the
                                                                               most of this timely catalyst for
                                                                               progression and change.
                                         Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau
                                         40 Foyle Street                               atherine O’Connor, manager of
                                         Derry
                                         BT48 6AT
                                         Tel: +44 (0)28 7126 7284
                                         www.derryvisitor.com
                                                                               C       the Derry Visitor and
                                                                                       Convention Bureau, says that
                                                                               signature tourism status and the
                                                                               development associated with it will
                                                                               certainly assist the city’s already
                                                                                                                       Tower Museum, Union Hall Place, Derry
                                                                               growing global profile.
                                                                                  One element, the ‘Visitor               “These developments are about
                                                                               Orientation and Interpretation Plan’    providing the visitor with information,
                                                                               has been completed and will allow the   showcasing the city, and doing it based
                                                                               visitor more choice in how he or she    on customer needs,” says Ms
                                                                               wishes to experience the city, by       O’Connor. “It is important that all our
                                                                               directing them using a series of        developments have a customer focus.”
                                                                               information panels dotted in and           Guided walking tours in this city
                                                                               around the ‘Walled City’. Also          have been immensely popular with
                                                                               included are gateway signs advising     visitors since they were introduced, as
                                                                               visitors that they have reached the     have the open-top bus tours, but not
                                                                               ‘Walled City’.                          every visitor wants a guided tour. They
                                      Grand Parade, West Wall, Derry                                                   might want something more casual, to
                                                                                                                       be able to wander around on their own
                                                                                                                       and stop to have a look, learning as
                                                                                                                       they walk along.



                                                                                                                            ... new infrastructural
                                                                                                                          developments will further
                                                                                                                         emphasize the city’s potential
                                                                                                                            for cultural tourism ...


                                                                                                                          The perfect example of this on-the-
                                                                                                                       move signage is the series of scene
                                                                                                                       boards dotted along the river walk.
                                                                                                                       Locals as well as visitors frequently use
Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau




                                                                                                                       this river walk, which runs from the
                                                                                                                       old Craigavon Bridge right down to
                                                                                                                       the new Foyle Bridge – so it’s a natural
                                                                                                                       visitor route. Also, the river itself has
                                                                                                                       an emigration theme, the presence of
                                                                                                                       the US Navy there in the 1940s, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                              213
                                                               Derry
 Derry


                         Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau




                                                                                                                                                      short-break destination and in recent
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                                                                                                      times as a developing business tourism
                                                                                                                                                      destination. As regards the
                                                                                                                                                      regeneration programme, we are
                                                                                                                                                      working with Derry City Council and
                                                                                                                                                      Ilex in an advisory capacity to ensure
                                                                                                                                                      that our visitor needs are catered for.”
                                                                                                                                                         Administered by DVCB, the
                                                                                                                                                      ‘Business and Cultural Animation
                                                                                                                                                      Programme’ will assist in the
                                                                                                                                                      development of tourism businesses,
                                                                                                                                                      provide training, produce a ‘brand’ for
                                                                                                                                                      the city, and develop as a series of
                                                                                                                                                      marketing activities directed at the
                                                                                                                                                      Northern Ireland and Republic of
                                                                                                                                                      Ireland markets.
                                                                                                                                                         The economic development team at
                                                                                                                                                      Derry City Council is responsible for
                                                                                                                                                      the development and implementation
                                                                                                                                                      of a tourism development strategy and
                                                               Derry nightlife
                                                                                                                                                      action plan for the city and its region,
                                                               more recently a new marina, as points        representative of Derry’s history and     with a special emphasis on the ‘Walled
                                                               of interest.                                 culture.”                                 City’ Signature Tourism Project.
                                                                  “We’re very pleased and excited                                                     Investment to date has been £9m.
                                                                                                              The first of its kind in Ireland, the
                                                               about the signage,” continues Ms                                                          Gary McLeod, tourism development
                                                                                                            Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau
                                                               O’Connor. “Part of attracting visitors                                                 officer with the council outlines its
                                                                                                            (DVCB) works as a membership              role.
                                                               to the city is ensuring that what we         organisation supported by the private
                                                               have on the ground makes it easier to                                                     “Our product development strategy
                                                                                                            sector and by Derry City Council.         is led by culture and tourism, in which
                                                               get around our array of visitor              Future tourism development in             it has been centrally involved for the
                                                               attractions.”                                Londonderry depends on these              past decade. Because of the ‘Walled
                                                                  Technology will also play its part in
                                                                                                            interdependent relationships.             City’ designation, a lot of the focus
                                                               this effort to help visitors familiarize
                                                                                                              “We work closely with our               has been in and around the city
                                                               themselves with Derry.
                                                                                                            membership and sell the city as a         centre.”
                                                                  “Currently being developed are
                                                               customized handheld devices that can                                                                         Cannons on the city’s walls

                                                               be rented from the Tourist
                                                               Information Centre – these will come
                                                               into use in the 2007 season and will be
                                                               visual as well as aural in their
                                                               presentations.”
                                                                  A ‘Lighting Strategy’ is being
                                                               planned at present. Key historic and
                                                               civic buildings will be floodlit, not only
                                                               highlighting their appearance but also
                                                               adding another dimension to the idea
                                                               of directing people effortlessly from
                                                               one sight to another.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau




                                                                  “Sections of the walls, the Guildhall,
                                                               and St Columb’s Cathedral are among
                                                               the major places being planned for
                                                               inclusion in the lighting strategy. These
                                                               have both high architectural merit that
                                                               will stand out, but are also
214
                                                                                                             Derry




                                                                                                                                                                       Derry
   It’s a complex procedure, he




                                                                                                                                 Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau




                                                                                                                                                                       Tourism & Hospitality
explains, demanding careful planning
as well as detailed creative direction.
   “The process has been going on now
for two years. For instance, the lighting
strategy has been approved and is at a
conceptual and planning stage. We are
working with consultants to develop a
design tool kit, which will be a palette,
enabling specifications for lighting for
each particular space. The actual
strategy, involving an investment of
£2.9m, will be rolled out in the spring
of 2007.”


   ... signature tourism status
       and the development
associated with it will certainly
assist the city’s already growing
          global profile ...


   The council’s economic development
team is working closely with key
partners such as Ilex and the DVCB to
realise the collective vision of the
‘Walled City’ Signature Tourism Project,
which has come to epitomize the drive
towards maximum improvement in
Derry’s tourism infrastructure.
   With hotel occupancy and visitors to
the Tourist Information Centre both
well up for 2006, the DVCB and its
partners have every reason to be
optimistic that the new infrastructural
developments will further emphasize
the city’s potential for cultural tourism.
   “We’re showing a major increase – a
6% increase in hotel occupancy on the
same 10-month period in 2005,”
reports Catherine O’Connor.
   Naturally, the surge in overnighters
is particularly welcome.                     The Guildhall, Derry
   “If people overnight or spend two
nights, they most probably will spend        council are developing projects that       city. We kook forward to another
money in a range of venues and retail        are beneficial equally to local people     successful season – and to the ‘Walled
outlets. They’ll eat out in restaurants;     and to tourists.                           City’ becoming a major icon in
they’ll visit pubs. So, the whole               “It’s important to all of us that our   Northern Ireland tourism.”
economy is benefiting.”                      citizens are proud of the ‘Walled City’
   She believes that the Derry Visitor       developments and will act as               Michael O’Hanlon is a freelance writer
and Convention Bureau and the city           ambassadors with us in promoting the       and journalist
                                                                                                                                                                            215
                                                   Hilton

                                                   Building on Excellence and Experience
                                                   Allan Strang
 Hilton




                                                                                       Patrick Stapleton, the Area General




                                                                                                                                                                              Hilton Creative Library
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                                       Manager for Hilton Northern Ireland,
                                                                                       is enthusiastic about the Hilton
                                                                                       Group’s expansion plans on the
                                                                                       island of Ireland. Two new hotels –
                                                                                       the Hilton Dublin Kilmainham and
                                                                                       the Hilton Limerick – are opening this
                                                                                       year in the Republic of Ireland.
                                                      Hilton Belfast
                                                                                             he Hilton Group’s existing two

                                                                                       T
                                                      4 Lanyon Place
                                                      Belfast
                                                      BT1 3LP                                hotels in Northern Ireland –
                                                      Tel: +44 (0)28 9027 7221               Hilton Belfast and Hilton
                                                      www.hilton.co.uk/belfast         Templepatrick – are testament to the
                                                      Hilton Templepatrick Hotel &     achievements of Mr Stapleton and his
                                                      Country Club                     staff and bode well for the future
                                                      Castle Upton Estate
                                                      Templepatrick                    success of the two new hotels.
                                                      Ballyclare                         “The success of any hotel in the
                                                      BT39 0DD
                                                      Tel: +44 (0)28 9443 5500         country is also dependent on the
                                                      www.hilton.co.uk/templepatrick   number of other hotels that you have
                                                                                                                                  Hilton Templepatrick Hotel & Country Club
                                                                                       within your family.”
                                                                                         The 5-star Hilton Belfast hotel          meeting hotel, predominantly focussed
                                                                                       stands proudly in the heart of the city.   on the 5-star market. It is the only
                                                                                       Situated in the stylish Laganside area     international 5-star hotel within
                                                                                       of Belfast, a mere five minutes from       Belfast, and it stands alongside the
                                                                                       the city centre, the hotel was opened      Belfast Waterfront Hall conference
                                                                                       in 1998. This luxurious hotel is one of    and exhibition centre, which itself as
                                                                                       Belfast’s prime business meeting           a venue attracts a broad range of
                                                                                       points and boasts an excellent range of    conventions, association meetings, and
                                                                                       conference and banqueting facilities       the like.
                                                                                       that are ideal for day meetings or           Belfast is now becoming an
                                                                                       residential conferences.                   attractive venue for organisers who are
                                                                                         The Belfast hotel was originally         looking for a different location, says
                                                                                       established as a conference and            Mr Stapleton.
                                                   Cables Bar, Hilton Belfast
                                                                                                                                    “Northern Ireland, and Belfast in
                                                                                                                                  particular, is becoming a focus for
                                                                                                                                  people and visitors looking for other
                                                                                                                                  destinations. Obviously we have lifted
                                                                                                                                  ourselves out of the ‘Troubles’ and that
                                                                                                                                  has allowed greater access to people
                                                                                                                                  who hitherto might not have ventured
                                                                                                                                  across. Additionally, low-cost airlines
                                                                                                                                  are giving people new access to
                                                                                                                                  Northern Ireland. As well as from
                                                                                                                                  Britain, flights into Belfast are
                                                                                                                                  increasingly coming from North
                                                                                                                                  America and all over Europe.”
                                                                                                                                    In a highly competitive city centre
                                                                                                                                  market, the Hilton’s reputation for
                                                                                                                                  excellence means that a lot of business
                                                                                                                                  and other organisations book with the
                         Hilton Creative Library




                                                                                                                                  hotel because they know that they are
                                                                                                                                  guaranteed a level of quality and
                                                                                                                                  expectation for their senior executives
                                                                                                                                  when they are coming into town to do
216
                                                                                                                                     Hilton




                                                                                                                                                                                     Hilton
business. They want it to be hassle free




                                                                                                                                                           Hilton Creative Library




                                                                                                                                                                                     Tourism & Hospitality
and a good and enjoyable experience.
  “They want the location to be
absolutely primary, so we are here in
the middle of the financial and
software district with Northbrook
Technology, BT, and Price Waterhouse
beside us. Overall, a lot of the
recognised brands and financial
institutions are based around here.”
  In contrast, the 4-star Hilton
Templepatrick Hotel and Country
Club, which also opened in 1998, is
set in 220 acres of beautiful park and
woodland in the Castle Upton Estate
on the banks of Six Mile Water in
County Antrim.
  This luxury hotel has a range of
facilities, most notably an 18-hole
championship golf course, together
with PGA professional tuition and a
practice range. It is also ideally
located, being only five miles from
Belfast International Airport and 15
minutes by road from Belfast City
                                           View from Treffners Bar, Hilton Templepatrick Hotel & Country Club
Centre.
  For those wishing for a more leisurely   winner of the HCIMA Executive Chef                                     “Business people like the scheme
experience, Hilton Templepatrick is the    Award, and his multi-medal winning                                   because they can collect their business
very place to come, says Mr Stapleton.     team, cater to the needs of guests at                                points and use them for leisure stays in
                                           Hilton Belfast’s Sonoma Restaurant                                   other Hilton properties, such as
                                           and Hilton Templepatrick’s Treffners                                 Templepatrick.”
     ... unique and unrivalled             Restaurant.                                                            The regard and esteem with which
    standard of hospitality ...               Together they create dishes sourced                               the two Hilton hotels are held in
                                           from local Northern Ireland produce                                  Northern Ireland is perhaps best
                                           to create some of the most talked                                    exemplified by Patrick Stapleton’s
   Although strongly associated with       about ‘eating experiences’ by guests.                                appointment in September last year to
golf, the hotel caters well and amply      Mr Sharkey and his team also worked                                  the board of directors of the Northern
for guests looking for something else      hard to be the first hotel in Northern                               Ireland Tourist Board.
besides. The complex’s health club has     Ireland to win the ‘Eat Safe’ award,                                   The Hilton’s two hotels in Northern
a fully equipped gym, a sauna, a steam     allowing diners not only to have their                               Ireland provide a unique and
room, a Jacuzzi, and a splendid 18-        taste buds excited by the excellent                                  unrivalled standard of hospitality in
metre heated indoor swimming pool.         cuisine, but also to know that the food                              the province. Whether a guest is there
   Those looking to renew and              comes from one of the cleanest                                       on business or for leisure, the two
recharge their ‘executive batteries’ can   kitchens in Northern Ireland.                                        hotels can meet both requirements
relax in the Templepatrick Spa where          Customer loyalty is important for                                 well and fully in their respective
its highly-trained staff offer ‘pamper     Mr Stapleton and his staff, as he                                    locations. The standards of
packages’. These are focussed in on        points out.                                                          accommodation are exceptional and
golf for one partner and beauty               “Probably a third of our customers                                the facilities and service are no less
treatment for the other partner. This is   mid-week are repeat customers –                                      than would be expected from top-
an extremely popular package with          regular loyal customers. We run a                                    ranking 5-star and 4-star
around 800 such packages sold yearly.      Hilton Honors loyalty card scheme                                    establishments bearing the Hilton
   When it comes to food at the two        where customers get what is called a                                 brand name.
hotels, Hilton Northern Ireland’s          ‘double dip’, so they are getting air
Executive Chef, Edward Sharkey,            miles and Hilton Honors points.                                      Allan Strang is a freelance journalist
                                                                                                                                                                                          217
                                         Port of Larne
 Port of Larne




                                         Opening Northern Ireland to the World
                                         David Fanning




                                                                       Described as the gateway to Ireland,        operations, the Port of Larne
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                       the Port of Larne is centrally located,     continues to make substantial
                                                                       allowing quick and easy access to           progress, and is proving most
                                                                       many of the historical, cultural and        beneficial for travellers and operators
                                                                       scenic areas in Northern Ireland, with      alike.
                                                                       a host of attractions right on its             Total passenger numbers through
                                                                       doorstep.                                   the port showed a slight downturn in
                                                                                                                   2006, reflecting the overall trend in
                                            Port of Larne                      ontinuing a successful initiative

                                                                       C
                                            9 Oldfleet Road
                                                                                                                   ferry passenger journeys. “It would be
                                            Larne                              launched in 2004, several cruise    great to report a further increase in
                                            BT40 1AS                           ships visited the port in 2006.     our passenger numbers,” says Mr
                                            Tel: +44 (0)28 2887 2100
                                            www.portoflarne.co.uk          “Larne is an ideal port for cruise       Millar, “but it is well-documented that
                                                                       ships,” says Port of Larne managing         low-cost airlines are having an effect
                                                                       director Keith Millar. “The port is fully   on people’s travelling habits.”
                                                                       equipped to meet the requirements of           He does not expect this to continue,
                                                                       these ships and is able to provide a full   though, and highlights the port’s
                                                                       check-in and baggage handling service,      attractions for business and leisure
                                                                       with passengers transferred to and          passengers, pointing to the speed of
                                                                       from the ship in airport-style buses.       crossings and the ease of embarking
                                                                          “Our overriding attraction for cruise    and disembarking.
                                                                       ship passengers is that we are located
                                                                       in an area of outstanding natural
                                                                       beauty and a magnificent range of               ... located in an area of
                                                                       attractions are within easy reach,          outstanding natural beauty ... a
                                                                       including for example the
                                                                       internationally-renowned Antrim coast       magnificent range of attractions
                                                                       road, which is just two minutes away            are within easy reach ...
                                                                       from the port, the Giant’s Causeway,
                                                                       visitor centres such as the Bushmills
                                                                       distillery, and a wide panorama of             “We have made an excellent start to
                                                                       scenic drives.”                             2007 in passenger terms, with
                                                                          In its everyday passenger shipping       numbers increasing by 20% in the first
                                         Port of Larne
                                                                                                                   quarter.
                                                                                                                      “The seasonal fast ferry from Larne
                                                                                                                   to Cairnryan takes one hour to cross
                                                                                                                   from Northern Ireland to Scotland, for
                                                                                                                   instance, and our passengers can pass
                                                                                                                   through the port with the minimum of
                                                                                                                   delay and fuss – and with the best of
                                                                                                                   service and assistance.”
                                                                                                                      He adds that the port has a first-
                                                                                                                   class passenger terminal and that
                                                                                                                   catering facilities have been completely
                                                                                                                   refurbished.
                                                                                                                      The Port of Larne offers visitors to
                                                                                                                   Northern Ireland the opportunity of
                                                                                                                   both spectacular scenery and
                                                                                                                   magnificent leisure, entertainment,
                                                                                                                   sport, and hospitality facilities within
                                                                                                                   easy reach.
                                                                                                                      Road access to the port has become
                                                                                                                   markedly better over the past year or
                         Larne Harbour




                                                                                                                   so, although the Port of Larne
                                                                                                                   continues to lobby the Northern
218
                                                                                 Port of Larne




                                                                                                                                                                  Port of Larne
                                                                                                                               Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism




                                                                                                                                                                  Tourism & Hospitality




Antrim coastline

Ireland Roads Service to make             corridor from Belfast to Larne as a           The continued success of the Port of
improvements to the principal route,      priority for expenditure.                  Larne is acknowledged by its
the A8 trunk road, particularly by           “This is a welcome development,”        chairman, Helen Deeble. “Any
creating a dual carriageway all the way   says the mayor of Larne, Alderman          successful ferry business depends on a
to the port.                              Danny O’Connor, “because of the            first class service from its ports, and
  In a commitment welcomed by the         strategic importance and significance      the high calibre of the whole of the
Port of Larne, and by Larne Borough       of the port of Larne to the whole          Port of Larne’s operation, and its
Council, the Republic of Ireland          island of Ireland and not just Northern    highly committed staff, is
government plans to contribute £400m      Ireland.                                   acknowledged throughout the
to infrastructure development in             Rail services to and from the Port of   industry.”
Northern Ireland, as part of which the    Larne have also been improved, and
Department of Finance in Dublin has       there is now a daytime hourly train        David Fanning is Editor of Corporate
earmarked the eastern seaboard            service.                                   Northern Ireland
                                                                                                                                                                       219
                                         Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast
 Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast




                                         Guaranteeing Space and Relaxation
                                         Allan Strang




                                                                         The Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast                   There is a staff of 65, and each
 Tourism & Hospitality




                                                                         opened in September 2004. It was a            member – from general manager
                                                                         £14m investment managed by the                Carina Svensen Williamson to the
                                                                         Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts                 front-line staff – participates in the
                                                                         international hotel chain, which has          Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts ‘Yes I
                                                                         over 600 locations worldwide.                 Can’ training scheme. The hotel has a
                                            Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast
                                                                                                                       ‘Yes I Can’ service whereby any
                                                                               his architecturally striking hotel is   member of staff, acting on their own

                                                                         T
                                            3 Cromac Place
                                            Ormeau Road                        located on the lower Ormeau             initiative, can deal with a guest’s
                                            Belfast
                                            BT7 2JB                            Road within Belfast city centre,        request at any time of the day.
                                            Tel: +44 (0)28 9043 4065     an area that has been at the epicentre           Catering for both the business and
                                            www.radisson.com
                                                                         of the city’s regeneration in recent          the leisure guest, the hotel is an ideal
                                                                         years. Despite its urban setting, the         location for those travelling to Belfast
                                                                         Radisson SAS offers the visitor and           from outside Northern Ireland due to
                                                                         guest access to a relaxing landscaped         its close proximity to all major
                                                                         garden area which includes a water            transport links, be it by road, rail, sea,
                                                                         feature and terrace, ideal for outside        or air. For those travelling by car, the
                                                                         events in the summer months.                  hotel has its own car park.
                                                                           The hotel has a large, spacious, and
                                                                         very modern reception area, a bar and
                                                                         restaurant, 120 en-suite bedrooms,               ... a business-friendly place
                                                                         and five meeting and events rooms.                         to stay ...
                                                                         There are also seven one bedroom
                                                                         suites and Suite 7, Belfast’s largest
                                                                         one-bedroom suite, with its own                  From Monday to Thursday, the hotel
                                                                         meeting facilities. All rooms are fitted      in the main attracts business guests,
                                                                         with individual temperature controls.         many of whom are regular customers
                                                                         The hotel and public areas are all            attracted back time and time again by
                                                                         accessible by wheelchair and some             the hotel’s relaxed but never anything
                                                                         bedrooms have been especially                 less than thoroughly professional
                                                                         adapted.                                      approach.
                                         Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast                                                       The hotel has a weekly ‘Meet the
                                                                                                                       Team’ gathering, where regular and
                                                                                                                       first-time guests can enjoy a few free
                                                                                                                       drinks and an informal chat with
                                                                                                                       members of the management team, as
                                                                                                                       well as fellow guests. It is this intimate
                                                                                                                       approach towards its professional
                                                                                                                       clientele that has helped establish the
                                                                                                                       Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast as a
                                                                                                                       business-friendly place to stay.
                                                                                                                          For guests seeking a relaxing few
                                                                                                                       days away after the stresses of the
                                                                                                                       week, the hotel offers an ideal location
                                                                                                                       for a city centre weekend break. The
                                                                                                                       hotel’s central location allows quick,
                                                                                                                       easy, and convenient access to Belfast
                                                                                                                       city centre with its array of shops, bars,
                                                                                                                       restaurants, and clubs. It is also an
                                                                                                                       ideal location for visiting some of
                                                                                                                       Belfast’s renowned attractions
                                                                                                                       including the City Hall, the Waterfront
                                                                                                                       Hall, the Grand Opera House, the
                              Leonardo




                                                                                                                       Botanic Gardens, Queen’s University
220
                                                  Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast




                                                                                                                                                  Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast
Leonardo




                                                                                                      platform for our business development




                                                                                                                                                  Tourism & Hospitality
                                                                                                      and loyalty campaigns. It offers a real
                                                                                                      selling point in a highly competitive
                                                                                                      city centre market and is an invaluable
                                                                                                      communications tool for the hotel.”
                                                                                                         A unique feature of the Radisson
                                                                                                      SAS Belfast is that it offers the guest
                                                                                                      two distinct room styles: Urban and
                                                                                                      Nordic. Urban rooms are warm and
                                                                                                      funky, styled in rich reds and striking
                                                                                                      wood finishes; while Nordic rooms are
                                                                                                      cool and calm, with hues of blue and
                                                                                                      grey complementing pale blonde
                                                                                                      wood.
                                                                                                         There are also a number of Business
                                                                                                      Class rooms that guarantee a DVD
                                                                                                      player, a king-size bed, upgraded
                                                                                                      toiletries, complimentary newspapers,
                                                                                                      and free complimentary access to LA
                                                                                                      Fitness in nearby Adelaide Street.
                                                                                                         The hotel offers visitors and guests a
           Dining at Radisson SAS Hotel                                                               wide selection of food and drink in the
           Belfast, the Ulster Museum, and the           consumers in a highly strategic way.         Filini Restaurant and Bar. Although, as
           historic architectural gem, the city’s           Once a customer has logged on they        the name would suggest, the
           renowned Crown Bar.                           are automatically directed to a              restaurant has a particular flair for
              For the business visitor, the facilities   dedicated branded ‘home page’ that           Italian dishes, the hotel’s chefs are
           at the Radisson SAS are ideal. Each           acts as a gateway to the web. But the        happy to cater for all tastes.
           bedroom is spacious and the facilities        landing page is more than just a             Furthermore, a recent innovation has
           in each, from a television to an ironing      passive ‘skin’ sitting over a web-           seen the hotel introduce a new room
           board, will cater for most guests’            browser – it is a fully interactive          service menu allowing guests the
           needs.                                        content-driven portal that delivers          choice of a lighter snack in the evening.
              One of the many attractions on offer       customers a raft of local information,
           at the hotel is the availability of free      services, and genuinely useful
           wireless internet access in all public        information.                                    ... large, spacious, and very
           areas and broadband in all guest                 For Radisson SAS guests, access to                      modern ...
           rooms, including its meeting and              the portal and internet is free of
           events rooms.                                 charge – in sharp contrast to many
              Radisson SAS is the first                  other hotels that offer an expensive           In recent years Belfast has begun to
           international hotel chain to offer free       ‘pay as you go’ service that was             attract visitors in increasing numbers
           broadband as part of its E@syConnect          described as a ‘rip off ’ in last year’s     from elsewhere in Great Britain and
           service concept across hotels in              Good Hotel Guide.                            from continental Europe and
           Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.             “Since last year all Radisson SAS         Scandinavia. Many of these are
              Airangel, the wi-fi and digital            hotels have offered free wi-fi for           business people and entrepreneurs
           content specialists, has recently             guests,” says general manager Carina         looking to take advantage of the new
           installed its unique ‘walled garden’ wi-      Svensen Williamson, “but since we            dynamism and self-confidence now
           fi networks and branded content rich          have had the airangel portal I’ve been       emerging throughout Northern
           portals at the hotel. Beyond just             stunned by how many guests have              Ireland.
           offering users with wi-fi enabled             commented on it positively. Not only is        It will become clear at once to
           devices access to the internet via a          it free for guests to use, which in itself   anyone who stays at this establishment
           standard wireless network, the airangel       is unusual, it also delivers a high level    that the Radisson SAS Hotel Belfast is
           branded gateway offers genuine added          of detailed and useful information to        an integral part of that new dynamism
           value to the Radisson’s customers,            which customers really respond.              and self-confidence.
           while at the same time giving the hotel          “For both business and leisure
           the opportunity to market to                  guests, it has proved a great marketing      Allan Strang is a freelance journalist
                                                                                                                                                        221

				
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