Bell applauds tourism’s best at gala event
Pictured are Tom McCusker, MD of sponsor, Tennent's NI; Darach McQuaid of Shade Tree Sports, recieving the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award for Giro D'Italia from DETI Minister, Jonathan Bell and Tourism NI Chairman, Terence Brannigan.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, has attended the 37th Annual Northern Ireland Tourism awards.
The gala ceremony, regarded as the highlight of the tourism calendar, recognised the most inspirational local providers and performers and celebrated the success of the tourism industry over the past year.
The 2015 awards spanned nine different categories and two special awards, reflecting developments and trends within the tourism and hospitality industry.
Titanic Belfast won the Outstanding Visitor Experience of the Year, while the Best Food Tourism Experience was won by the Poacher’s Pocket restaurant in Lisbane County Down.
In the accommodation categories, the winners were Bushmills Inn Hotel & Restaurant, which lifted the Best Place to Stay- Hotel of the Year, Newforge House for Best Place to Stay – Serviced Accommodation, and Fermanagh Self-Catering, for Best Place to Stay – Non-Serviced Accommodation.
Speaking on his first official tourism engagement as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Jonathan Bell said: “Northern Ireland is fortunate to have such a range of ambitious, hard-working and innovative tourism providers, enterprises and stakeholders as demonstrated by the outstanding calibre and range of award winners tonight. This gives me great confidence that Northern Ireland is well equipped to maintain the momentum that has been generated in tourism and that we can continue the drive to increase its economic benefits.”
In the NI Tourism Champion category, which acknowledges an individual’s involvement and impact on local tourism, the award went to highly respected Blue Badge tour guide, Ken McElroy.
The Giro d’Italia, which was universally hailed as a major success for Northern Ireland, scooped the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award.
Tourism NI Chairman, Terence Brannigan, said: “Tourism continues to offer one of the best opportunities we have to strengthen the local economy, and these awards are about celebrating the best practice, the innovation and the creativity that will help move the industry on. This evening’s awardees will no doubt be key to further success in the future, and therefore they deserve great credit and hearty congratulations.”
Awards sponsor Tom McCusker, Managing Director of Tennent’s NI, said, “Thanks to everyone who strives for excellence in all that they do within the tourism and hospitality sector, we are seeing Northern Ireland’s tourism grow from year to year. I must therefore applaud all who have won this year’s awards as their contributions to this increasingly vibrant and dynamic sector are taking Northern Ireland’s reputation for offering uniquely warm hospitality to its many visitors to new levels.”
Pictured are Brian Beattie of sponsor, Tennent’s NI, with Bernie and Conor McClelland of Rayanne House, winners of the Extra Mile Award for Customer Services.
The full list of Northern Ireland Tourism Award winners was as follows:
Outstanding Visitor Experience of the Year
Winner: Titanic Belfast
Highly Commended: Visit Belfast Welcome Centre
Commended: Game of Thrones Winterfell Tours, Peak Discovery Group
Extra Mile Award for Customer Service
Winner: Rayanne House
Highly Commended: Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site
Commended: Titanic Belfast’s Discovery Tour
Commended: Streamvale Open Farm
Best Place to Stay- Hotel of the Year
Winner: The Bushmills Inn Hotel & Restaurant
Highly Commended: Beech Hill Country House Hotel
Commended: Causeway Hotel
Best Place to Stay – Serviced Accommodation
Winner: Newforge House
Highly Commended: Shola Coach House B&B
Commended: Rayanne House
Best Place to Stay – Non-Serviced Accommodation
Winner: Fermanagh Self-Catering
Highly Commended: Finn Lough Resort
Commended: Dunamoy Cottages & Spa
Best Food Tourism Experience
Winner: The Poacher’s Pocket
Highly Commended: James St South
Commended: The LegenDerry Food Festival
Best Event or Festival Experience
Winner: LegenDerry Maritime Festival
Highly Commended: Circuit of Ireland Rally 2014
Commended: Vauxhall International North West 200
Commended: Open House Festival Bangor 2014
Best Marketing Mix
Winner: Festival of Light at Mount Stewart, National Trust
Highly Commended: River to Lough Festival
Commended: Cabaret at the MAC
Commended: Passport to the Arts, Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s 2014
Sustainable Tourism Award
Winner: Orchard Acre Farm
Highly Commended: City Hotel, Londonderry
Commended: Jurys Inn
Commended: Tory Bush Cottages
Local Tourism Champion
Winner: Ken McElroy
Outstanding Contribution to Tourism
Winner: Giro d’Italia 2014