A major tourism push for 2016 kicked off this week, as 22 Northern Ireland tourism businesses travelled to London, to join Tourism Ireland at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) including the Giant’s Causeway, Causeway Coastal Route and Roe Park Resort.
Over the four days, the Northern Ireland companies engaged in thousands of meetings with GB and international tour operators – to negotiate and exchange vital contracts for 2016. Organisers estimate that more than £2.5 billion’s worth of business was done at last year’s WTM.
With about 180 countries and regions all vying for business at WTM, Tourism Ireland aimed to stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of the global media and travel professionals in attendance. The organisation highlighted Northern Ireland’s unique offerings for potential visitors around the world. Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016 will be unveiled to the influential audience at WTM – with stunning images prominent on the Tourism Ireland stand.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The large representation of Northern Ireland companies at World Travel Market once again this year was extremely welcome – and essential in the highly competitive global marketplace. I am pleased to report that we have seen growth in visitor numbers to Northern Ireland from around the world this year. The latest NISRA figures confirm an increase of +7% in overseas visitors for the first half of 2015, with growth recorded from all of our main markets – including GB, North America, Mainland Europe and our new and developing markets.”
Tourism Ireland aims to keep this momentum going and build on this growth in 2016 and beyond. Niall Gibbons continued: “Recent announcements about new flights augur well for continued growth in overseas tourism to Northern Ireland. These include a new Brussels Airlines flight to Belfast City Airport for summer 2016; KLM’s Amsterdam to Belfast flight and Vueling’s service from Barcelona, both introduced this year; as well as United’s decision to reinstate its year-round flight between Newark and Belfast.
“Next year, we will place a major focus on highlighting Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, when we will celebrate all that is good about our superb produce and world-class food scene. Northern Ireland is increasingly synonymous with culinary excellence and Tourism Ireland will take every opportunity in 2016 to highlight Northern Ireland around the world to people who love great food.”
Now in its 36th year, World Travel Market is the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar, with more than 50,000 travel professionals from around the world and 3,000 international media in attendance.