by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Tourism NI is holding its first ever Virtual Tourism Conference today at Belfast’s ICC with the theme of Survive, Revive, Thrive and a focus on recovery planning and equipping and empowering the tourism industry to meet the current challenges. Hosted by Wendy Austin, the event will explore the detail in the recently published Tourism Recovery Action Plan which was launched along with the Department for the Economy on the 28th May.


The Plan sets out the key challenges facing the tourism industry as it emerges from the pandemic and the actions required to support recovery in the most targeted and effective way.

There will also be a spotlight on the importance of closer to home markets during the conference, including the Northern Ireland domestic market, Great Britain and Republic of Ireland, and how to maximise opportunities.

Panelists include John McGrillen, Tourism NI, Judith Owens, Titanic Belfast, Martin McMullan, Life Adventure Company, Ciaran O’Neill, Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Des Annett, Vice President Incoming Tour Operators Association Ireland.

Commenting on the Virtual Conference, Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen said;

“Successful delivery of the Tourism Recovery Action Plan will require us all to work together in partnership. Everyone has a part to play from government departments, tourism agencies, councils, and representative bodies to destination management organisations and most importantly the industry.

“I am confident that the actions within the Recovery Plan will support our development as a sustainable and competitive tourism destination that meets the needs of future visitors, creates sustainable employment and makes a positive contribution to local communities right across Northern Ireland.”

Tourism NI is forecasting a return to 80% of 2019 levels by the end of 2022 with a fuller recovery by 2024.

In addition to grants from the Executive, Tourism NI has invested approximately £25 million on a wide range of support to the industry and to assist businesses prepare for recovery this year and into the future.

Tourism NI’s heavyweight advertising campaign is currently being rolled out across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Designed to kickstart the season, the campaign is running across television, outdoors, radio, press and digital channels. Encouraging everyone to take a “Small Step to a Giant Adventure” and book a staycation, the campaign builds on successful promotions last summer.

It will be accompanied the “We’re Good to Go” industry mark that reassures consumers that businesses have met all the recommended safety guidelines, and can display the “We’re Good to Go” safety mark on their premises and in their communications.

In addition, visitors are being asked to sign up to a new visitor pledge to encourage safe and responsible tourism across Northern Ireland while supporting local businesses.

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Tourism NI CEO John McGrillen with Wendy Austin and Judith Owens, CEO of Titanic Belfast

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