Hamilton hails Euro 2016 tourism potential

Pictured are Oonagh O'Reilly, Irish Football Association Director Of Sales And Marketing, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, Mayor of Saint Georges de Reneins Sylvie Epina and Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish Football Association. William Cherry/ Press Eye
Pictured are Oonagh O'Reilly, Irish Football Association Director Of Sales And Marketing, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, Mayor of Saint Georges de Reneins Sylvie Epina and Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish Football Association. William Cherry/ Press Eye

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has visited the Northern Ireland team’s media centre in France.

With a potential audience of millions the Northern Ireland Executive invested £30,000 in using the media centre to showcase Northern Ireland tourism opportunities to the international media and through them to the world.

Whilst visiting the centre Simon Hamilton met the Mayor of Saint Georges de Reneins, Sylvie Epinat. Mr Hamilton said: “Northern Ireland’s presence in the town has created a focal point for the locals. The team and the IFA’s support staff have been made really welcome. The shops and houses are flying Northern Ireland flags and displaying banners of support and local schoolchildren have visited the centre to see it up close and to learn about Northern Ireland.

“A number of marketing initiatives are underway to promote Northern Ireland at the European Championships. As a key service sector, the tourism and hospitality industry offers one of the best opportunities for us to grow our international reputation and strengthen the local economy.”

The Minister continued: “A visitor centre hosted by Visit Belfast at Place de l’Europe in Paris will showcase both Belfast and Northern Ireland to fans while a Tourism Ireland film will run on giant screens in the city’s official fan zone. The film will be shown more than 950 times to a potential audience of up to 1.6 million people – highlighting some of our top attractions, including the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway.

“It is estimated that the Northern Ireland team’s advancement to its first finals in 30 years is worth £8.5million to the Northern Ireland economy. Our presence in these finals is also a potential game changer for Northern Ireland tourism and in particular how we integrate our tourist promotions with our national team. It is vital that we seize this opportunity and I want to congratulate and thank the IFA for having the vision to use the media centre to showcase Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile, a peak audience of 462,000 viewers tuned in to UTV yesterday, Thursday 16th June, to watch Northern Ireland clinch a historic 2-0 victory over Ukraine in the second of the Group C matches in the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament.

The peak audience counted for a 70% share of the viewing audience at that time.

Broadcast live from the Stade de Lyon in France, Michael O’Neill’s men had a task ahead of them as they sought to make history by defeating Ukraine for the first time. The Northern Ireland squad rose to the challenge though clinching their second goal in the dying seconds of the game.

On the ITV Network an average of 3.2 million viewers tuned in to catch the game.

Michael Wilson, Managing Director UTV, said: “Averaging over a quarter of a million viewers and peaking at almost half a million is a superb result for yesterday’s game.

“UTV are delighted to have brought this historic victory to the home crowd who were unable to make it to France to see the team play live.”

Euro 2016 coverage continues on UTV tonight with the Spain vs. Turkey match at 19.30 and into the weekend with live coverage of the Republic of Ireland game against Belgium on Saturday at 13.00.