Northern Ireland news

Tourism in Belfast receives a boost with graduation of 15 new tour guides

A total of 15 White Badge accredited tour guides graduated at Clifton House for the Belfast Charitable Society, giving tourism a boost in Belfast. Pictured are 14 of the graduates with Sir Ronald Weatherup, President of the Belfast Charitable Society, (centre front) to his left, Úna Duffy, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and (right) Kevin Guinchard of the Institute of Tourism Guiding(ITG). Clifton House tours run daily Monday to Friday in July and August at 3pm, less the 12 and 15 July
Marie Louise McConville

Tourism in Belfast has received a welcome boost following the graduation of 15 new tour guides.

Belfast Charitable Society has been named as the first heritage site in Northern Ireland to receive the prestigious White Badge accredited qualification, which enables it to offer a culturally rich and informative experience for those visiting the city's oldest public building, Clifton House.

The qualification puts Clifton House on par with London landmarks, Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and Hampton Court, as it is accredited by the Institute of Tourist Guiding.

An impressive Georgian building, Clifton House is set in tranquil landscaped gardens in the heart of Belfast.

Opened in 1774 by Belfast Charitable Society, the building was used until the late 1880s as Belfast's Poor House.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded Belfast Charitable Society/Clifton House almost £15,000, which allowed the Society to train the guides, who will welcome visitors and take them on tours.

Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of the Belfast Charitable Society, said: "Tourism has now become an important part of our economy and with visitor expectations high, we want to not only meet but exceed what tourists assume they will learn about Northern Ireland, Belfast and our history.

"We are delighted that 15 of our volunteers have achieved this highly respected White Badge accreditation today, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The volunteers, who reside locally, come from a range of places and backgrounds, from North Belfast to Russia and from teaching, law, voluntary work to care-taking, some speaking a second language including Mandarin and Russian. We are excited by the diversity of our guides as well as their knowledge!”

***Clifton House tours run daily Monday to Friday in July and August at 3pm, excluding July 12 and July 15

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