21 Nov 2011

A group of leading American conference and event planners joined Lord and Lady Dunleath for afternoon tea at Ballywalter Park recently, as part of a fact-finding visit to Northern Ireland, organised by Tourism Ireland.

The group included decision-makers from various companies involved in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) industry who organise international conferences, meetings and large-scale incentive events. They represented companies based right across the US including Atlanta, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina and New York. As well as enjoying a visit to Ballywalter, the group’s itinerary – designed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in conjunction with BEM Ireland (destination management company) – also took them to Belfast City Hall, the Titanic Quarter and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Vice-President of Marketing in the United States, said: “We are delighted that so many of these top conference and event organisers took time out of their busy schedules to visit Ballywalter and Northern Ireland, indicating their keen interest in the destination. For many, it was their first time here and they were extremely impressed by the facilities and venues on offer here – as well as by our spectacular scenery, the wealth of historic attractions and the friendliness of the people they met.

“Business tourism is an important, high yield sector and Tourism Ireland is working hard to promote Northern Ireland as a premier destination for conferences, meetings and events. The growth in visitor numbers from North America to Northern Ireland of about +20% for the first six months of 2011 is welcome news indeed and is an encouraging basis on which Tourism Ireland, together with our industry partners, will build in 2012.”

Business tourism is the most lucrative form of tourism, offering significant economic benefits; and Tourism Ireland has stepped up its efforts to capitalise on this, in the US and elsewhere around the world, with a busy programme of high profile events, promotions and sales blitzes. These have been highlighting the good value rates available for meetings and conferences from hotels and other suppliers in Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland has also been showcasing the great experiences business delegates can enjoy here on the sidelines of their conference or meeting, interacting with locals and savouring aspects of our unique culture and heritage.

                                                                                                                     Pictured in the conservatory at Ballywalter Park are Lord Dunleath; Suzanne Miell, President of EWI Worldwide, based in Atlanta; Marie McKown, Tourism Ireland US; and Kirk Nord, Vice President of McVeigh Performance Group, based in New York.


For further information:          
Elaine Moore/Clair Balmer Tourism Ireland
Tel: 028 7035 9260     Mob:  07766 527719

Notes to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Tourism is responsible for in excess of 4.9% of GDP in Northern Ireland and supports approximately 40,000 jobs.
• Approximately 1.4 million overseas visitors came to Northern Ireland in 2010, delivering revenue of approximately £210 million. 
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 42 different websites, providing information in 14 different languages covering every continent.  In 2010 discoverireland.com attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.


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