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Tourism NI unveils shortlist for fortieth anniversary Northern Ireland Tourism Awards

Maxine Mawhinney this year’s host of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, Jorge Lopes, Country Director Diageo and John McGrillen, Chief Executive Tourism NI.

Tourism NI in association with Diageo Northern Ireland has unveiled the shortlist of nominations for the 2018 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, the fortieth year of the prestigious awards.

The gala event will be held on Thursday 24th May at the Europa Hotel where the first awards took place in 1978 and will be presented by former BBC newsreader and Belfast native Maxine Mawhinney.

The awards started life as the British Airways Tourism Endeavour Awards in 1978 and since then many hundreds of local businesses have been recognised for their contribution to the local tourism industry.

Today the awards celebrate best practice and innovation by tourism and hospitality businesses from across Northern Ireland. Eleven categories recognising excellence are up for grabs including Best International Experience, Best Heritage Property, Best Hotel Stay and Best Tourism Entrepreneur.

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

“We have had a record number of entries to the 2018 awards and on the 24th May will be recognising those businesses and individuals who have delivered world class experiences and have contributed to the £2.7 million spent every day by visitors to Northern Ireland.

“Today we are the Lonely Planet’s Best Region in the World, with thousands of tour operators queuing to programme Belfast, the Causeway Coastal Route, Fermanagh, Armagh, the Walled City and many more parts of this corner of the island. This is a huge achievement considering the challenges that our tourism industry has faced over the last forty years.”

Jorge Lopes, Country Director, Diageo Northern Ireland, added;

“It’s wonderful to have so many tourism and hospitality businesses, organisations and initiatives from across Northern Ireland shortlisted for these awards.  Such diversity of entrants highlights the quality of our tourism offering and reinforces the importance of this industry to our local economy and Northern Ireland as a whole.”

The shortlist has been drawn up by a panel of internal and external judges and includes nominations that are contesting in more than one category. The full shortlist is below;

Authentic NI Experience of the Year
An Droichead – Belfast Traditional Music Trail
Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust – Artisans at Work
Seamus Heaney Homeplace
The Museum of Free Derry

Best NI Event or Festival Experience
Derry City and Strabane District Council – Derry Halloween
Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club – Ulster Grand Prix
Galgorm Castle – Northern Ireland Open

Best International Experience
Belleek Pottery Visitor Centre
Titanic Belfast- World Travel Award

Most Impactful Digital Innovation Award
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – Night Ride to Armagh: A Digital Transformation
Motorhome Parking Ireland – Motorhome Craic
The MAC Belfast

Most Promising Authentic NI Event or Festival Experience
Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council – Armagh Georgian Festival 2017
Outdoor Recreation NI – Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
XO Events – The Belfast Tattoo

NI’s Best Guest House/B&B Stay
Ardtara Country House
Blackrock House B&B
Water’s Edge, Glenarm

NI’s Best Hotel Stay
Bullitt Hotel
Bushmills Inn
Galgorm Resort & Spa
Merchant Hotel

NI’s Best Self Catering Stay
Ballygally Holiday Apts
Blessingbourne Country Estate
Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges
Spice Cottages

NI Food and Drink Experience of the Year
Balloo Inns Limited – ‘The Parson’s Nose’
Derry City and Strabane DC – Slow Food Festival
Walled City Brewery

NI Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year
Bespoke Northern Ireland
Fullerton Arms Guest House
Streamvale Open Farm

NI Tourism Heritage Property of the Year 
Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council – Antrim Castle Gardens
Blessingbourne Manor & Country Estate
Crumlin Road Gaol

To view the shortlist again or purchase tickets visit www.nitourismawards.com

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