Tourism NI – Celebrating four decades of tourism industry excellence

Tourism NI

Tourism NI today launched this year’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards alongside event sponsor Diageo at the Europa Hotel, the venue for the first awards ceremony forty years ago and again in 2018.

Tourism businesses across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to enter the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards as Tourism NI searches for best practice, excellence and innovation to recognise and reward.

Since the first award ceremony in 1978 over four hundred local businesses have been recognised for their contribution to the local tourism industry.

The awards recognise and reward excellence, best practice and innovation by tourism and hospitality businesses from across Northern Ireland over the past twelve months and will take place on Thursday 24th May.

Eleven awards are up for grabs including NI Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year, Northern Ireland’s Best Hotel Stay and Most Impactful Digital Innovation awards alongside a streamlined online entry and judging process.

John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive urged local business to enter the awards; “ The Northern Ireland Tourism Awards are about recognising those businesses and individuals who have delivered world class visitor experiences over the past year and have contributed to the £2.3 million spent every day by visitors to Northern Ireland”.

“2018 marks forty years of the awards and a very special milestone for the industry, a rare opportunity we can use to reflect on just how far tourism has progressed over the last four decades. Forty years ago only twelve travel agents in Europe sold holidays to Northern Ireland compared to the thousands of tour operators programming Northern Ireland as a must experience destination today.“

“We are also delighted to be back at the Europa for the fortieth anniversary of the awards, a hotel that is part of the tourism and hospitality DNA of Northern Ireland. Our new categories for 2018 are reflective of our change in approach in relation to the growth of tourism and our continued focus on innovation and collaboration to succeed.”

Jorge Lopes, DIAGEO Country Director commented; “We are extremely proud to once again sponsor the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, especially in its 40th year. Our brands, including Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s, have been enjoyed by visitors and locals alike over the last 40 years.  Throughout this time Diageo has remained committed and passionate in our support of the tourism and hospitality sector.  This remains the case both today and in the future.  The industry in 2018 is almost unrecognisable from 1978 so the Awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the many businesses, organisations and initiatives that have made Northern Ireland the ‘must visit’ destination that it is today. We wish all entrants the very best of luck.”

Tourism NI is calling on the public to submit archive images and video they may have of tourist attractions, holiday highlights and special visitor experiences of 1978 to be shown at the event ceremony. Images and video should be sent via Twitter to @NITouristBoard or emailed to

The deadline for submitting entries is 5pm Monday 12th February 2018.

For full details on categories and how to enter please visit

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