Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has urged the Northern Ireland tourism industry to further focus on enhancing the visitor experience here.
The Minister was speaking at the ‘Visitor Inspired’ tourism showcase event in Belfast, organised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), which displayed the work that NITB has been doing over the last 18 months to improve and enhance the tourism experience in Northern Ireland.
Arlene Foster said: “Visitors are beginning to realise there is much more to see and do in Northern Ireland. It is important that the industry capitalises on this increased demand and interest, in order to fulfil the region’s potential as a leading edge destination.
“NITB has been working over the past 18 months to discover all that is unique about Northern Ireland. Almost 1,000 people from across the tourism industry, government and beyond, have been involved in defining what makes this part of the world different from other destinations and how best to exploit this, in order to improve the tourism experience. The work also aimed to find ways by which all of us can anticipate and exceed the demands of holidaymakers.
“The process highlighted Northern Ireland’s friendly and genuine welcome as well as the unique culture on offer, including our interesting stories and characters.”
The tourism showcase event celebrated these Northern Ireland qualities, and illustrated much of the work that NITB has already implemented across the industry to help improve the visitor experience here.
The Minister continued: “NITB has implemented a number of pilot projects to highlight ways that the tourism industry and its stakeholders can improve the visitor experience in Northern Ireland.
“One of the projects involved taxi drivers. They are often the first point of contact for visitors as they arrive in Northern Ireland and therefore play a vital role in providing a warm welcome. NITB produced an informative DVD to expand drivers’ knowledge of landmarks, history and interesting facts, which can be shared with visitors, bringing their taxi ride to life through stories and humour.
“Such projects will hopefully inspire others to make a real difference to tourism here. I now encourage the industry, and everyone in Northern Ireland, to play their part in delivering memorable and unique visitor experiences.”
Howard Hastings, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board believes this project can make a real difference. He said: “From the moment a visitor arrives, to the transport they take, the accommodation they chose or the food they eat – there are so many ways to positively influence the visitor experience. Many of them can be as simple as offering directions to a tourist in the street.
“With this in mind we have been working closely with the industry on exciting pilot initiatives that will deliver the new Northern Ireland experience, and this event showcases everything that has been achieved so far. It is also an opportunity to look at everything we have to be proud of in Northern Ireland. I feel passionate about tourism and Northern Ireland, and I hope that this showcase will inspire others to create their own ‘Visitor Inspired’ experiences.”
Further NITB pilot initiatives will be rolled out over the coming months across Northern Ireland. These will inform us all on ways by which we can create improved and unique experiences for visitors to the region.