VISIT Belfast has laid out plans for fivefold increase in tourism and hospitality activity in the city in just three years.
It has outlined the development of an ambitious new strategy to support the city’s economic recovery post the hammer blow of Covid-19.
And it is targeting return to the local economy of £150 million by March 2024 from its baseline of £30m in the year just about to end.
The blueprint, revealed at a virtual event attended by Visit Belfast’s tourism industry partners and stakeholders, highlighted the importance of tourism to the region’s economy and the opportunity for regrowth when restrictions ease.
In 2019, Belfast accounted for £417m of total tourism spend in the north, representing more than 40 per cent of the region’s visitor economy and supporting 22,000 jobs.
In a new tourism landscape, Visit Belfast said there would be a priority focus on delivering inclusive growth and protecting and enhancing the local environment by increasing collaboration and partnership across communities and neighbourhoods.
The body’s chair Kathryn Thomson said: “The impact of Covid-19 has forced a major rethink and reimaging of our approach to tourism marketing.
“Our ambitions for growth and greater impact remain the same, but viewed through a lens of new priorities, we must acknowledge the need for Belfast to ‘build back better’ and tourism has a vital role to play in that.”
She added: “Cities across the globe are faced with many particular and acute challenges in the wake of Covid-19, but they are also home to the biggest tourism assets, which can also make the biggest impact on economic recovery. An established global tourism brand, Belfast is already at the table.”
James Davies, country director for Diageo NI, said: “Our pubs, bars and restaurants are an integral part of the city welcome, our brand identity, culture and stories – they have been a hallmark of our local and global tourism success,”
“Hospitality is a key employer that supports thousands of jobs across the city and region and we want Diageo Northern Ireland’s on-going support to play a key role in helping to build a resilient, safe and sustainable future for the industry here.”
Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: “Belfast’s tourism industry has played a leading role in attracting high value, high spending visitors to the city and beyond, which are so essential for growth.
We are committed to working in partnership with Visit Belfast to ensure we build back better as we transition out of the current health crisis.”
— to www.irishnews.com