First Minister, Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness have commended the winners of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards at a ceremony held in Derry~Londonderry tonight.
The Ministers were among an audience of 300 attending the event in St Columb's Hall, which recognised a total of 39 outstanding performers in the local tourism industry.
Commending the award recipients the First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland Tourism Awards celebrate our hard-working and innovative tourism providers and stakeholders and I commend everyone here this evening for the contribution you make to the Northern Ireland economy.
“Tourism has been a central and growing force for many years now, generating £484million to our local economy in 2015 and events such as these are an excellent shop window for the industry.
“Northern Ireland’s tourism offering continues to flourish and is providing outstanding new facilities and new experiences. World class attractions such as Titanic Belfast and The Giant’s Causeway give visitors to this region more reasons to stay longer, do more and, ultimately, spend more.
“We are fortunate to have such a range of outstanding and high-calibre award winners here tonight and this gives me great confidence that the Northern Ireland tourism product is well equipped to compete on a global stage.
“It is only right that we celebrate and showcase all that is good about this vibrant sector. I am proud to share our attractions and our culture, heritage and traditions with visitors from near and far.”
The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “In recent years there has been a tourism transformation with 2.3million visitors to the north in 2015. This is the highest number on record and a 5% increase on 2014.
“The success and progress to date has been the result of a huge collective effort. I commend and congratulate everyone in the tourism industry for their contribution. People working in the tourism industry don’t just provide services and hospitality they create experiences and memories. Visitors turn to them when they arrive or want advice on what to do when they are here.
“Given the immense economic, social and cultural benefits it is an important element of the new Programme for Government. We must continue to sell our tourism proposition on the global stage. The more visitors we attract the more job opportunities this will sustain and create.
“Tonight is a fantastic opportunity for everybody to see and appreciate the tremendous work of our tourism sector. All those nominated and receiving awards tonight should be rightly proud of the key role they play in this vital sector.”
Tourism NI Chairman, Terence Brannigan, said: "There’s no doubt these awards are the biggest night of the tourism industry calendar and both the awardees and this city have done Northern Ireland proud. I am confident that the best practice, the innovation and the creativity demonstrated tonight will underpin Tourism NI's efforts to help move the industry on and indeed strengthen the local economy."
Brian Beattie, Marketing Director at Tennent’s NI, said: “Our congratulations go to an outstanding group of award-winners whose vision, hard work and enthusiasm are reinforcing Northern Ireland’s growing international reputation as a uniquely hospitable destination. Derry did the sector proud, rolling out the red carpet with style and panache for a fabulous gala celebration of all that’s best in tourism and hospitality.”
Notes to editors:
- The event was organised by Tourism Northern Ireland in association with Tennent's NI, and followed the Tourism NI Annual Conference held earlier in the day in the city's Millennium Forum. It was the first time both events have been held on the same day, and their first time in Derry~Londonderry.
- The 2016 NITA awards spanned 14 different categories and included two special awards, reflecting developments and trends within the tourism and hospitality industry.
- For more information on the awards please contact Tourism NI Communications Team on 028 9023 1221.
- Media enquiries to The Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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