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Tourism NI reveals short-list for 2019 industry awards

The Halloween festival celebrations in Derry have been short-listed in this year's NI Tourism Awards

THE pick of the north's big events like the Balmoral Show, Féile an Phobail and the Derry Hallowe'en Festival, along with top hotels, BBs and self-catering outlets, are among those included on an extensive short list for the 41st running of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

Recognising and rewarding outstanding performers in the tourism industry over the last 12 months, categories include best use of digital technology, best hotel stay, best international experience and tourism entrepreneur.

Hundreds of entries were received, and they were melted down to a 40-strong list of finalists for the awards night in association with Diageo in Armagh's Palace Demesne on Thursday May 30.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said: “The tourism industry presents a huge opportunity for our economy in the years ahead and standards are rising rapidly to meet the needs of a diverse range of visitors from around the world.

“It's important we recognise businesses and individuals who have delivered outstanding tourism experiences and have contributed to the £2.9 million spent every day by visitors to Northern Ireland. I congratulate all nominees and look forward to celebrating their success on May 30.”

Paddy McKenna, commercial manager for Diageo NI, added: “These awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the individuals, businesses and initiatives who have proven to be significant economic drivers for the Northern Ireland economy at a time when we really need it." The short-list is:

:: Authentic experience of the year (site based) - Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council - Antrim Castle Gardens; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council - Armagh Georgian Festival; RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre.

:: Authentic experience of the year (tour, trail or immersive) - Armagh Cider Company; Causeway Coast Foodie Tours - Catch and Sea Tour; DC Tours.

:: Best digital marketing campaign - Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism - Seasonal Digital Marketing Campaign; Nerve Centre - Derry Halloween; W5 - Dinosaur Encounter.

:: Best international experience of the year - Derry City and Strabane District Council - Derry International Hallowe'en Festival 2018; National Trust NI – Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience; Odyssey International - ITA Leaders of Excellence.

:: Best event or festival experience - Balmoral Show - Royal Ulster Agricultural Society; Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 2018; Féile an Phobail - Féile 30 - A Community Celebration of Global Culture.

:: Best use of digital technology to improve the visitor experience - Belfast City Council - Hello Maritime Mile; National Trust - Introduction of online timed ticketing system for Carrick-a-Rede.

:: Most promising authentic event or festival experience - Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council - Armagh Food & Cider Festival; Open House Festival Bangor; Outdoor Recreation NI - Giants Causeway Coast Sportive; Stendhal Festival.

:: Food & drink experience of the year - Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council - Armagh Food & Cider Festival; Country Lifestyle Exhibitions (CLE) Ltd - The Food Festival; Hughes Craft Distillery - Distillery Gastropub & Gin School.

:: Tourism entrepreneur of the year - Sean McLaughlin - Fullerton Arms Hotel; Gareth Murphy - We Are Vertigo; The Wilson Family - Montalto Estate; Albert Titterington - Country Lifestyle Exhibitions (CLE) Ltd.

:: Best guesthouse/B&B stay - Baytree Boutique B&B; Peartree Hill B&B; Rooms at Rue.

:: Best hotel stay - Bishop's Gate Hotel; Bullitt Hotel; Bushmills Inn.

:: Best self catering stay - Ballygally Holiday Apartments; Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges; Larchfield Estate

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