Outgoing Tourism Northern Ireland Chairman Howard Hastings has urged over 200 tourism conference delegates to take a leading role in strengthening Northern Ireland’s presence on the global stage as a new development phase for the industry begins.
He was speaking at Tourism NI’s annual conference, held at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Thursday.
Focusing on the theme of ‘Northern Ireland the Movie’, the conference featured a series of expert speakers including home-grown actor James Nesbitt, who recently starred in the critically acclaimed drama series The Missing for BBC1.
One of the world’s foremost cross-cultural experts Sir Richard Lewis also spoke at the event.
Attending his last conference as chairman, Mr Hastings said;
“If we didn’t know before, all of us here are most definitely now aware that we have a leading role in the tourism ‘production’. We all belong firmly in the cast of thousands needed to make Northern Ireland tourism become an international blockbuster”.
“No matter how small or large a business or organisation the key message we must take home today is that everyone has a lead part to play in growing tourism. The script and the plot may be changing but I am sure we all remain fully focused on the overarching prize, which is a thriving and profitable industry worth £1 billion to our economy by 2020.”
As he prepares to step down from his role he said; “As I hand over the reins of the chairmanship very shortly I shall remain deeply committed to playing my own part in Northern Ireland tourism to the full”.
Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment Arlene Foster attended the conference and announced a major new initiative for 2016, the Year of Food, which is to have a tourism focus and is to be taken forward by Tourism Northern Ireland.
As well as the movie theme, the conference addressed the importance of global events, screen and food tourism, with Tourism Northern Ireland presenting strategic insights, research, business tools and direction to enable delegates to develop their activities.
The conference was attended by providers and stakeholders from all over Northern Ireland.