Success of revamped aquarium can raise all boats in Strangford area

Published on : Saturday, August 13, 2016

Tourism northern irelandThe general manager of the redeveloped Exploris Aquarium has issued a rallying call to local stakeholders to maximise the new centre’s potential along with the area’s host of attractions.



Ann Moreland was speaking this morning ahead of next week’s reopening of the facility after a £2million investment through a public/private partnership.



On a tour of the revamped facility, Ann addressed a specially invited audience which included local businesses, community representatives and supporters. Whilst showcasing the new facilities ahead of Monday’s official opening Ann urged collaboration and partnership in fully maximising its opportunities.



“The message is we’re open for business, both with the aquarium and with what Strangford has to offer, as we have a host of benefits right across the area. We have the St Patrick’s Heritage Trail, Game of Thrones’ locations, the Castle Ward and Mount Stewart estates as well as great local businesses and the very best of artisan food producers. Now we just need to join the dots and work together to tell the story of what Strangford Lough and its surrounding areas have to offer as a destination.”



The re-opening of Exploris, which has created over 20 jobs, was made possible as part of a joint investment between the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Ards and North Down Borough Council and Aquarium Exploris Ltd, who will be operating the facility. The replication of such partnerships between local stakeholders and the aquarium would help to strengthen the visitor experience and improve business overall, Ann said.



“If we’re going to be the major tourism hub it’s important for us to get buy in from all our local stakeholders. We would like to influence our partners on how they can also sell and add value to our visitor experience. That works the same for us as the team at Exploris, we will be saying to our visitors ‘you can get out on to the lough’ or ‘you should take a trip to Echlinville Distillery’ or ‘go to Castle Ward and Mount Stewart’, we all have our part to play in growing the entire Strangford destination.”



The almost £2 million investment has enabled an impressive redevelopment and remodelling of aquaria, landscapes and a coffee shop to create a first class visitor attraction in the heart of the Strangford destination. With the goal of ‘entertainment and education’ visitors will enjoy a diver’s view of marine life from around the world and learn about the many species via newly installed AV information screens.



Hand-painted artwork and colourful amination within the display tanks and outdoor pool area have been designed and put together by Nautilus who are the team behind some of the biggest zoos and aquariums in the world.



Aquarium Exploris Ltd (AEL) – the successful team behind Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd (CRG), one of Belfast’s top favourite attractions – are at the helm of this flagship attraction and visitors will be looking forward to a fabulous journey through the world’s oceans and seas.



Kieran Quinn, Director of AEL says “We have established an excellent partnership with Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle, County Kerry to assist with the development of specialist educational and conservation programmes about marine life at the Aquarium and look forward to creating a memorable visit to for everyone that come to Exploris”



Phelim Devlin, Director of AEL, continued, “The aquarium is also coming back with more fish and new additions than before. As well as native and tropical fish, we now have otters setting up home alongside their marine neighbours in the seal sanctuary. While our Rainforest zone includes a rescued Nile crocodile, who is settling well in its carefully created controlled environment, with aquarists trained to look after him properly.”



Source:- Tourism Northern Ireland

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