Foster welcomes tourism buyers to G8 venue
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed over 120 international buyers to the host venue of last year’s G8 Summit. Tour operators from markets including North America, Britain and Europe were at County Fermanagh’s Lough Erne Resort to take part in a major Meet the Buyer Workshop. Pictured L-R are: Marc Kavanagh, Journeys Connect, New York; Alan Clarke, NITB; Adrian Dunbar, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster; Rosannah Cherrill, Travco LLP, England; Howard Hastings, NITB and Simon Gregory, Tourism Ireland.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed over 120 international buyers to the host venue of last year’s G8 Summit.
Tour operators from markets including North America, Britain and Europe were at County Fermanagh’s Lough Erne Resort to take part in a major Meet the Buyer Workshop.
The event, organised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Tourism Ireland, involved a series of face-to-face sales meetings between buyers from around the world and key industry representatives from the local tourism sector.
Addressing delegates at the gala dinner, Arlene Foster said: “The Meet the Buyer Workshop is one of the most important dates in the Northern Ireland tourism calendar. Now in its 24 year, it provides an important platform for local businesses to meet with key international buyers, many of whom are here for the first time.
“Tourism has an important role to play in the development of our economy and the strong attendance of delegates from across the globe shows that the interest in Northern Ireland as a holiday destination remains high, not least because of international events like this year’s Giro d’Italia
“There was of course more great news for the tourism industry, when it was confirmed that the Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland next year and again in 2017. It is fitting that the international buyers are here to see the beautiful Lough Erne Resort for themselves. Having already played host to the some of the world’s most powerful leaders during the G8 summit last year, it will now host some of the world’s greatest golfers in 2017.”
“Royal County Down is another hugely popular course and the spectacular scenery around the coast will provide a wonderful backdrop for worldwide coverage of next year’s Irish Open.
“We know Northern Ireland is a world class golfing destination and a place that should be on every golfer’s ‘must play’ list. I know participants in today’s workshop will have been taking the opportunity to deliver that message.”
As part of the event, the NITB facilitated a series of familiarisation visits across Northern Ireland to help buyers explore opportunities for sending more visitors here. They included Celtic myths and legends, movie locations, living legends and creative Belfast vibe itineraries. Buyers were also briefed about the attractions in Fermanagh, and sampled local produce in menus created by Lough Erne head chef Noel McMeel, who cooked for the G8 leaders last year.
The Minister continued: “The Meet the Buyer Workshop also forms an important part of the G8 legacy, which has been billed as the most peaceful summit in history. The hosting of the world’s most powerful leaders last year sent out a positive message that Northern Ireland is a welcoming, vibrant place for visitors to explore, companies to invest in and for young people to come and study in. I have no doubt that today’s event will greatly assist in building upon this legacy and lead to increased tourism business in both Fermanagh and Northern Ireland.”
Attending the event Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of NITB said: “Meet the Buyer is one of the most important events in the tourism calendar. It provides a platform not only to do business but to exchange ideas and develop relationships. I am particularly pleased to welcome our international buyers to Fermanagh, almost a year after the county played host to the safest ever G8, and less than a week after Lough Erne Golf Resort was announced as the venue for the Irish Open in 2017.
“We take huge pride in how much our tourism infrastructure has developed in recent times. The investment that has taken place in tourism is a shining symbol of how Northern Ireland has been transformed over the last decade. There is a new business and civic confidence in tourism and an appreciation of its prospects for contributing to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy and to deliver on jobs and investment. This business and tourism confidence is what we are showcasing to our tour operators from around the world at Meet the Buyer 2014.”
Welcoming the strong international attendance at this year’s Meet the Buyer workshop in Enniskillen, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to bring top international tourism buyers to Northern Ireland for Meet the Buyer 2014, including 27 who are here for the first time, which provides such an important opportunity for our local tourism partners. The high number of attendees is a strong indication that Northern Ireland is competing with the best destinations in the world.
“Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of promotions under way across the world, to highlight Northern Ireland and grow tourism in 2014 and beyond. We are placing a major focus on the Grande Partenza of next month’s Giro d’Italia, taking every opportunity to leverage the tourism benefits of this prestigious sporting event for Northern Ireland. And our new campaign with HBO and its hit TV series Game of Thrones will showcase Northern Ireland in a completely new way on the global stage. With our spectacular scenery, world-class visitor attractions and good value accommodation, Northern Ireland truly is a ‘must see’ destination. Our message is that there has never been a better time to come and visit Northern Ireland.”