New group within tourism industry will help sectors growth

NI Tourism Alliance chair Brenda Morgan (left) with vice-chair Don Wilmont and chief executive Doreen McKenzie
Kelly McAllister

A NEW voice in the north's tourism industry will create a more favourable climate for growth and success in the sector as it prepares to break through the billion pound barrier.

The just inaugurated NI Tourism Alliance will provide a single, strong body to champion the industry and will help push tourism higher up the government agenda.

Members of the organisation include key figures from within the sector as well as local authorities who will provide visitor infrastructure, tourist information centres and major attractions, including key events.

The launch of the new steering group was the first corporate event to be held in the new £55 million Grand Central hotel in Belfast city centre.

Don Wilmont, vice-chairman of the Alliance, said: “As a mature industry, we have earned the right to be listened to and we now have the vehicle we need to make our opinions count on major strategic issues which will include everything from the UK's exit from the European Union and the ongoing uncertainty of the economic climate to the industry's overall competitiveness.”

The organisation's chief executive Doreen McKenzie added: “After a decade of fast-paced development, tourism last year contributed a record-breaking £926 million to the Northern Ireland economy and, despite inevitable challenges, that upward trajectory seems set to continue, making this initiative as timely as it is important.

“Coming together under the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance umbrella has enabled us to show a determined and united front as, fully supported by well-considered independent research, we reinforce the absolute need for change and investment on these key issues.”

She added: “Now that the tourism industry has finally found its voice, don't expect us to whisper!”

The organisation's first initiative has been a formal response to the government consultation process on a number of issues including tourism in the north.

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