Foster congratulates tourism winners

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An audience of over 300 members of the local tourism industry played a leading role at Belfast’s Grand Opera House last night as the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards took centre stage.

Leading local acts such as comedians Nuala McKeever and Grimes and McKee, as well as theatrical, street and circus performers all reflecting Northern Ireland’s history, stories and culture were involved in presenting each award from the Opera House stage.

Organised by the NITB in partnership with Diageo Northern Ireland, the awards cover 11 categories that showcase the very best in local tourism provision.

Causeway Lodge won the Serviced Accommodation category and the Giant’s Causeway won the Visitor Inspired category.

Speaking at the event, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “Northern Ireland is achieving something tremendously positive as we move through 2012 and into 2013 and beyond.

“We’ve seen substantial investment in infrastructure projects and important private sector-led developments including hotels, restaurants and other services. Over 200 publicly funded projects have leveraged new capital investment of some £300 million.

“I fully recognise that those in the industry have worked extremely hard to forge new, dynamic and prosperous businesses that will benefit the visitor, the industry and ultimately the Northern Ireland economy.

“I congratulate tonight’s winners. They have set the bar high in terms of quality, customer service and the visitor experience they are delivering. I encourage others to follow their lead and make the Northern Ireland tourism industry truly world-class.”

Awards were presented in a variety of categories, including Excellent Events, Taste of Northern Ireland and Best Visitor Experience.

Other award winners included the Causeway Lodge on the north Antrim coast, which scooped best Serviced Accommodation, “The Titanic Festival alone included 120 events and we have much, much more to look forward to.”

Diageo sponsored the awards for the fourth year in a row.