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Published on : Tuesday, June 7, 2016
The recently released annual tourism statistics show that 2015 was record year for visitors to Northern Ireland, a great achievement I am sure everyone in the industry now wants to build on.
So for Tourism NI’s annual conference it was time to look forward, time to look at how we drive tourism in Northern Ireland through partnership. We are now competing on a global stage and future growth is dependent upon on us all working collectively to compete in that international marketplace.
That is why we chose the theme of ‘Collaborating Locally, Competing Globally’, and our speakers brought vast international experience, giving those present excellent perspectives on the latest tourism trends, what we need to do to compete and how we can do it through working together for our collective benefit.
Tourism has been absolutely critical to the transformation that has taken place in Northern Ireland. In the past decade it has delivered stronger growth than any other sector of the Northern Ireland economy. In 2011 we were set a target of doubling tourism revenue to £1bn by 2020. I am pleased to say that we are well on the way to achieving that target.
However, we have yet to reach our destination and that target continues to drive me and my team. With Simon Hamilton as the new Minister for the Economy we look forward to continuing the work to deliver economic growth and prosperity for the people who live here.
New tourism strategy
By September we hope to have a new strategy for Northern Ireland tourism which will set out our ambition and direction of travel for the next decade. During the consultation process the industry was very clear that we needed to develop our own version of the Wild Atlantic Way, something which linked the key tourism areas in Northern Ireland, something which allows us to stand out from the crowd.
We are working on a new marketing proposition that will create a sense of intrigue, imagination, mystery and magic for this part of the world, an experience people will not want to miss. It is currently being tested with consumers in our core markets and once complete we will of course be telling the industry all about it. The objective of this project is quite simple: to attract more visitors, to have them stay longer and to spend more when they are here.
The conference emphasised the need to differentiate the Northern Ireland experience from those to be had elsewhere. This will be dependent upon ensuring we have an appealing and growing number of visitor attractions, or the ‘tourism hardware’, and developing and delivering compelling content propositions and unique experiences, what might be called the ‘tourism software’.
Among the ways we are tackling the hardware needs, Tourism NI is developing the policy framework for a new Tourism Development Scheme to support a number of new leisure products and the rejuvenation of existing products and experiences which align with our core market segments.
Developing the software however is about the industry deepening its understanding of customers’ needs, and offering a different and quality experience which is about greater perceived value that commands a premium price.
Our visitors tell us time and again that what makes Northern Ireland stand out from the crowd is our commitment to go the ‘extra mile’. So we need to promise and deliver more. If people go the extra mile to come here, we need to go the extra mile to make it special for them when they do.
Source:- Tourism Northern Ireland