Tourism Minister Gordon Lyons promotes Northern Ireland in London

Tourism Ireland lays the foundations for strong return to growth in overseas tourism to Northern Ireland in 2022 

Tourism Minister Gordon Lyons joined Tourism Ireland in London this week, to promote Northern Ireland.

His schedule included a meeting with senior representatives of GB tour operators, as well as with global inbound tour operators based in London. As travel from overseas restarts, this was a useful opportunity for Minister Lyons to hear at first-hand from these important travel professionals.

The Tourism Ireland team updated Minister Lyons on its dedicated Northern Ireland ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ campaign, which is under way in GB right now. The £5 million campaign is being seen by millions and will reach at least 80% of all adults. It aims to generate demand now and drive bookings for short breaks and holidays in Northern Ireland.

Minister Lyons also opened Tourism Ireland’s annual ‘Flavours of Ireland’ workshop. Now in its 19th year, ‘Flavours’ – which took place virtually in 2020 – was an in-person event once again this year. It was held in the beautiful Guildhall, in the City of London, and was attended by around 100 top global inbound tour operators who deliver business from all over the world, including the US, Mainland Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa. The tour operators met, and did business with, tourism companies from across the island of Ireland, including 20 from Northern Ireland.

This year, ‘Flavours’ is of particular importance, as overseas tourism restarts and the participating tour operators prepare to sign contracts for 2022 and 2023. It is, therefore, a key time for the Northern Ireland tourism companies to highlight and sell their product to these important decision-makers.

Gordon Lyons
Pic 2 – (left to right) Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Corporate Service, Joan O’Shaughnessy, Chair of Tourism Ireland, Harriet Ayim, Interopa Holidays and Minister Gordon Lyons

Tourism Minister, Gordon Lyons MLA said: Tourism and hospitality businesses have been amongst those hardest hit by the pandemic. I am pleased to be able to join Tourism Ireland here in London to help support them in promoting Northern Ireland to both international and GB visitors.

“I welcomed the opportunity to meet up with the tour operators and share with them some of the many must see destinations and attractions Northern Ireland has to offer. Tour operators are vital to the recovery of our tourism industry; they have previously brought an estimated £150m into the local economy, meaning they are an important source of income for accommodation providers, hospitality businesses and tourist attractions.” 

Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Corporate Services, Policy & Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted that Minister Lyons joined Tourism Ireland in London for the first time this week. He had the opportunity to hear about the importance of the GB market at first-hand from our travel trade partners. He also attended our annual ‘Flavours of Ireland’ event, where he met with leading global inbound tour operators. Before COVID-19, these tour operators were responsible for delivering millions of bed-nights to the island of Ireland. He assured them that we look forward to working closely with them in the months and years ahead – to rebuild tourism to Northern Ireland, for the long-term sustainable future of our industry.

“We believe that the time is now right to get back out into the international marketplace, reminding prospective visitors that Northern Ireland continues to offer a wonderful holiday experience. Key priorities to ensure success will include rebuilding consumer confidence; as well as air and sea connectivity, which is vital as an island destination. It is undoubtedly a fiercely competitive marketplace; every destination has experienced the impact of COVID and is now seeking its share of the recovery. We are pulling out all the stops to set Northern Ireland and Ireland apart from our competitor destinations.”

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