Innovation Factory collaboration starts new tourism business

David Kearns and Michael McCusker of Tour Ticket Ireland celebrate the launch of their new Irish Whiskey Tour with Innovation Factory innovation director Majella Barkley and centre manager Anna McDonnell. Photo: Brendan Gallagher

TWO entrepreneurs from west Belfast have started a tour company dedicated to injecting more money into the local economy by encouraging tourists to spend more time experiencing its unique culture.

David Kearns and Michael McCusker of Tour Ticket Ireland, based at the £9m Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road, believe many internationally organised tours do not benefit the local economy as much as they could.

As they launched their new whiskey tour of Ireland, David said: “We want Tour Ticket Ireland to be a vehicle for local tourism, to encourage people to spend more time in Belfast and use the local amenities.

“We are structuring our tours so that people have time for an authentic experience – eating locally and having time to absorb the culture.”

Both partners are passionate about developing the tourism infrastructure in West Belfast, having grown up just minutes from where they have now founded a business.

Michael and David met at the Innovation Factory, which specialises in helping start-ups develop by fostering and encouraging innovation and collaboration. David was running his successful website and app development company Media Nerds when they decided to work together to develop Tour Ticket Ireland.

Since December they have been developing tours, creating partnerships with other organisations and developing their website

Their four day whiskey tour takes in five distilleries including the Jameson Distillery in Dublin, the Old Bushmills Distillery, Nephin Whiskey, Co Mayo, Walsh Whiskey, Co Carlow and Tullamore Dew in Co Offaly.

Majella Barkley, innovation director at the Innovation Factory start-up hub, said: “Tour Ticket Ireland is a great example of the culture of collaboration we are seeking to foster here.

"It is fantastic to see two local men having the entrepreneurial drive to take on the big tour companies by doing something fresh and new.”

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