A major tourism push for 2015 kicked off this week, as 24 tourism enterprises from Northern Ireland – including The National Trust and The Causeway Coast & Glens Tourism - travelled to London, to join Tourism Ireland at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM).
Now in its 35th year, World Travel Market is the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar, with about 50,000 travel industry professionals from around the world and 3,000 influential international media in attendance.
According to the organisers of WTM, more than £2.2 billion’s worth of business was transacted at the event in 2013. This year, some 24 Northern Ireland tourism enterprises – including hotels, visitor attractions, coach tour companies and regional tourism organisations – are exhibiting at the Tourism Ireland stand. Over the next four days, they will engage in hundreds of meetings with GB and international tour operators – as they negotiate and exchange vital contracts for 2015.
With more than 180 countries and regions all vying for business at WTM this week, Tourism Ireland aims to stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of the global media and travel trade in attendance.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said:“It is vital we continue to showcase Northern Ireland to both tourist and business visitors alike. The GB market represents one of our largest markets and we are also now seeing more visitors from further afield from all over the world. The World Travel Market represents an opportunity to meet with key industry stakeholders and international media and to get the message out there that Northern Ireland is a must see destination.
“I am delighted to see so many partners from the Northern Ireland Industry attending this year’s event. As well as up and coming events such as the Tall Ships next year and the Irish Open in 2015 & 2017 we also have visitor attractions from the Titanic Belfast to the natural beauty of the Fermanagh Lakelands. As tourist statistics show more and more people are discovering what Northern Ireland has to offer and we must continue to build on this.”
The latest NISRA figures confirm growth of +5% in overseas visitors to Northern Ireland for the first half of 2014, with growth of +19% in overseas holidaymakers, compared with the same six-month period in 2013. Tourism Ireland aims to keep this momentum going and build on this growth in 2015 and beyond.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The large representation of Northern Ireland tourism companies on the Tourism Ireland stand at World Travel Market this year is extremely welcome and essential in the highly competitive global marketplace.
“I am really pleased to report that we have seen growth in overseas visitor numbers to Northern Ireland of +5% from around the world in the first half of 2014, including growth of +19% in overseas holidaymakers.
“I am particularly pleased to see growth of +31% in GB holidaymakers. Visitor numbers from North America for the first half of 2014 are also very encouraging – +29% in all North American visitors and +29% in holidaymakers. I am also very pleased to see growth in revenue for the Northern Ireland economy from all overseas visitors (+6%).
“Tourism Ireland has been rolling out an extensive promotional programme throughout 2014, showcasing Northern Ireland around the world to prospective holidaymakers. Our aim is to keep this momentum going and deliver further success in 2015 and beyond.
“Next year, we will working hard to maximise the tourism potential of the Irish Open at Royal County Down and the return of the Tall Ships to Belfast, as well as the opening of the Gobbins Cliff Path. We will also be highlighting the new British-Irish Visa Scheme in China and India, which is a significant development, as it means that Chinese and Indian visitors will be able – for the first time – to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a single visa of either country.
“At the beginning of next month, we will outline our plans for 2015, when we will be pulling out all the stops to keep this momentum going and ensure that Northern Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business.”