Edition 16_ September 2006

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             Headlines: Edition 16, September 2006
             Northern Ireland Update
             Business Tourism Expo A Huge Success
             The Northern Ireland Tourist Board recently welcomed international buyers to the first ever
             Business Tourism Expo in Northern Ireland. Up to 50 international buyers from the United
             States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain attended the event which ran from
             7-10 September. The event provided the opportunity for local tourism organisations to present
             their offerings to an influential audience from the Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Events
             sector and also Association buyers. Business tourism is estimated to be worth over £16 billion
             in the United Kingdom and the event was a chance for key business stakeholders to meet
             with national and international buyers to promote the range of options available in Northern
             Ireland. The business tourism buyers were hand-picked by the NITB and Tourism Ireland as
             those offering the greatest potential to deliver business to Northern Ireland.

             Visitors Take in the Sights with a Belfast Bus Tour
             Belfast bus tour operators have reported a rise in the number of visitors taking bus tours of
             the city, especially those on weekend breaks. According to City Sightseeing, people are flying
             in from cities such as Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Liverpool, Birmingham and London for hen and
             stag parties in Belfast and take a bus tour to enjoy all of the city‟s sights. The rise in cheap
             flights to Belfast means visitors are coming in greater numbers and spreading the word.
             According to tourists, Belfast is attractive because of the „great nightlife‟ and its friendly

             Airport Passenger Numbers Could Soar To 12 Million
             Belfast International Airport could see more than 12 million passengers per year by 2030
             according to the airport‟s master plan, creating 7,000 jobs as a result. The airport will require
             a new, 3-storey terminal to cater for the increase in passenger numbers and envisages
             demolishing the current one in 2015. A rail link to the airport is also planned and parking
             areas will be expanded. The airport says it is confident the investment plans will „result in a
             fantastic economic asset for Northern Ireland‟. The airport expects interested parties to
             respond to the plan by 31 October.

             Luxury Hotel Planned For Landmark Building
             Plans are underway to turn the Crumlin Road Courthouse into a multi-million pound 160-room
             luxury hotel. The development of the building will cost £25 million and will create 200 full-time
             and part-time jobs as well as 300 jobs during construction. The listed building, which was
             constructed in 1850, will keep some of its original features such as the two main courtrooms
             and an underground passage connecting the building to the former prison across the road. A
             hotel operator and planning permission are needed before building work can start, but an
             application for government funding has already been submitted and it is hoped the hotel will
             open by March 2009.

             Cultural Quarters Piece-Up with New Tourist Guides
             Belfast City Council is publishing 4 new city tourist guides to raise awareness of the city‟s
             cultural quarters: Queen‟s; Cathedral; Gaeltacht; and Titanic. The guides are available from
             the Belfast Welcome Centre and provide maps and information highlighting special areas of
             interest. Guides on the Queen‟s, Cathedral and Gaeltacht quarters have already been
             released, with visitor information on the Titanic Quarter to follow soon.

             Bushmills Is Best
             The Good Pub Guide has included the Bushmills Inn in an article for its magazine „Plus‟. The
             article, which discusses 9 of the best gastropubs in the United Kingdom, is fronted with a

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             photo of the Bushmills Inn, the only Northern Ireland property featured. Both the atmosphere
             and the food at the Bushmills Inn are praised in the article.

             £30 Million Hotel Complex Planned For Portrush
             A new 4* hotel is planned for Portrush and will replace one of the town‟s landmarks. The £30
             million Cloughorr House Hotel is to be built on the site of the Golf Link‟s hotel, which houses
             Kelly‟s nightclub. The 9 acre site will provide a 120 bedroom hotel with spa, crèche, leisure
             complex and 25 residential apartments.

             Northern Ireland Taking Up Broadband at High Speed
             Internet users in Northern Ireland are taking up broadband at some of the fastest rates in the
             United Kingdom, according to major UK support services company Enterprise plc. In January,
             Northern Ireland became the first region in Europe to have 100% access to high speed
             internet connections. Broadband is the system allowing „always on‟ access to the internet at
             much faster speeds than traditional dial-up connections. Northern Ireland‟s broadband count
             is thought to be approaching 250,000, with 59% of households accessing the internet and
             57% of those using broadband. Almost £10 million of European funding has been invested to
             make broadband universally available in Northern Ireland, meaning that anyone in Northern
             Ireland who wants a broadband service can get it.

             Festival of the Peninsula Celebrates Its 5th Year
             The 5th “Festival of the Peninsula” is taking place from September 12-17 in Newtownards.
             Featuring an impressive line-up of internationally acclaimed folk musicians and storytellers
             from as far away as Australia and Tanzania, the event also includes walking tours, boat tours
             and a series of workshops. For further information go to

             Air Access Update
             Flybe will start operating 4 flights a week from Belfast to Inverness from December; however
             EasyJet will be withdrawing its flights on this route from October.

             Competitor Update
             Republic of Ireland
             All But One of the Great Southern Hotels Sold For €265 Million
             The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has confirmed the sale of 7 of the 8 Great Southern Hotels
             chain for a total of €265 million. Edward Holdings, a company controlled by Galway
             businessman Gerry Barrett has bought the Killarney, Eyre Square and Corrib hotels, while
             Dublin developer Bernard McNamara has bought the Parknasilla Hotel in County Kerry.
             Another company has acquired the 3 airport hotels at Dublin, Cork and Shannon. The DAA
             said no acceptable tender had been received for the Rosslare Hotel but the hotels group was
             confident it would sell „in the near future‟. Great Southern Hotels has also completed the sale
             of a 25% stake in the City of Derry hotel to existing local shareholders. Workers will receive a
             lump sum payment and will have the option of transferring to the new owners or taking up a
             voluntary redundancy package.

             Great Britain
             Baa Faces £20 Million Terror Alert Bill
             Last month‟s terror security alert cost airport operator BAA more than £20 million, the
             company has announced. Thousands of flights were cancelled last month after an alleged
             plot to blow up transatlantic flights was foiled. British Airways said flight cancellations cost it
             £40 million, criticising BAA‟s handling of security at the time. Following the alert on 10 August,
             passengers were forbidden to take any hand luggage on board, except for one small plastic
             bag. Although this was subsequently relaxed, allowing passengers to carry one item of hand
             luggage the size of a laptop computer on board, the security measures were severely
             criticised by airlines, with Ryanair seeking £3.3 million in compensation from the Government
             and British Airways considering a similar move. The £20 million figure is more than double the

NITB, St Anne's Court, 59 North Street, BELFAST, BT1 1NB | Tel +44 (0)28 9023 1221 | Fax +44 (0)28 9024 0960 | Textphone +44 (0)28 9044 1522

             loss BAA suffered last year over the industrial dispute at catering firm Gate Gourmet, when
             disruption was limited to Heathrow airport. Although the cost represents only a small amount
             of BAA‟s annual sales of more than £2 billion a year, the long-term impact of the terror alert
             remains a potential concern to BAA.

             Britain Seeks To Turn-Around Slump in Japanese Visitors
             VisitBritain is leading a delegation in an effort to win back the Japanese consumer. Japanese
             tourists couldn‟t resist Britain in the past, but over the last 5 years foot-and-mouth disease,
             perceived extortionate prices and the risk of terrorism is keeping them away. The number of
             Japanese visits to Britain in 2005 was 332,000, a decline of 40% over 5 years. VisitBritain is
             pinning its hopes on the new movie Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter,
             to attract Japanese tourists back to the Lake District. Fear of terrorism is seen as the
             principal, but not the sole reason for the decrease in Japan‟s tourists. The stagnation of the
             Japanese economy and the nation‟s ageing population is also being blamed. Miss Potter hits
             the big screen in January 2007 and it is hoped it will bring Japanese visitors back to Britain;
             predominantly appealing to female travellers aged 30-50.

             New Power to Blackpool’s Lights
             Wind turbines are being built on Blackpool‟s promenade to help power the seaside resort‟s
             famous lights. Council officials are initially installing 3 turbines to measure how cost effective
             the wind energy will be. It is hoped they will become a permanent fixture as the town attempts
             to manage the running costs of its famous illuminations. Blackpool‟s street lighting, traffic
             signs, municipal buildings and the resort‟s light show cost the council about £1 million a year
             and it is hoped the wind turbines will reduce this figure. If the new scheme proves to be cost
             effective, permanent wind turbines could be in place by spring next year.

             Hotel Scoops Green Awards
             An Edinburgh hotel chain has picked up 3 awards for making its business environmentally
             friendly. Apex Hotels which has 2 properties in the Grassmarket and one in the West End,
             won 3 gold awards in the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

             Super casino Success Crucial for Scottish Tourism
             According to official Government research, the entire Scottish tourism sector could suffer if
             Glasgow fails to win the contest to become home to the first super casino in the United
             Kingdom. A report for ministers said the country‟s reliance on tourists from south of the border
             meant that if the super casino went to Blackpool or northern England it would attract visitors
             who would otherwise holiday in Scotland. Glasgow is one of the front runners in the contest
             but it faces tough competition from Blackpool and other cities as well as the Millennium Dome
             location in Greenwich, London. Scottish tourism generates £4.5 billion to the economy per
             year, with only 30% of this coming from domestic tourism, 47% coming from England and
             19% from overseas visitors. The concern is that if Scotland doesn‟t win the bid for the resort-
             type casino, Scottish residents could start taking short trips to the casinos elsewhere in the
             United Kingdom, which would result in a „negative net economic impact‟.

             Tourist Attraction Takes Visitors to New Heights
             A dynamic new tourism experience has opened in Hong Kong. Described as a „world-class
             tourist attraction‟, Ngong Ping 260 is located on Hong Kong‟s Lantau Island and combines a
             5.7 km cable car journey with a cultural themed village and the Tian Tan Buddha, the world‟s
             largest, seated, outdoor bronze Buddha statue. The cableway is the biggest in Asia and the
             journey lasts for about 20-25 minutes, taking passengers to spectacular 360-degree
             panoramic views. Adjacent to the terminal at the summit, the 1.5 hectare Ngong Ping village
             is designed in the traditional Chinese style, boasting beautiful landscaped gardens and
             offering restaurants, shops and various entertainment experiences.

NITB, St Anne's Court, 59 North Street, BELFAST, BT1 1NB | Tel +44 (0)28 9023 1221 | Fax +44 (0)28 9024 0960 | Textphone +44 (0)28 9044 1522

             Contact Information
             For more information visit or contact:
             Agnes Carville
             Tel: 028 9044 1645
             Fax: 028 9044 1615

             Pamela Baird
             Tel: 028 9044 1550
             Fax: 028 9044 1615

NITB, St Anne's Court, 59 North Street, BELFAST, BT1 1NB | Tel +44 (0)28 9023 1221 | Fax +44 (0)28 9024 0960 | Textphone +44 (0)28 9044 1522