Nine senior representatives of GB companies involved in the meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) industry – who organise international conferences, meetings and large-scale incentive events – visited Northern Ireland last week. Invited here by Tourism Ireland and Aer Lingus, they were here to discover more about our meeting and conference facilities, venues and accommodation, as well as the great experiences delegates can enjoy here on the sidelines of their conference or meeting.
The first stop on the group’s itinerary – devised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board – was Crom Castle in Co Fermanagh, location of the BBC comedy series Blandings, where they were welcomed by Lord Erne. They also visited the famous Belleek Pottery, as well as beautiful Belle Isle Castle, where they were welcomed by the Duke of Abercorn. The group stayed at Lough Erne Resort, host venue of the forthcoming G8 Summit. Then it was on to Belfast, where they visited Titanic Belfast, as well as some of the city’s newest attractions, SS Nomadic and the Crumlin Road Gaol. They completed their busy schedule with a site inspection of the conference facilities at the five-star Merchant Hotel.
David Boyce, Tourism Ireland’s head of business tourism, said: “Business Tourism is an extremely important, high yield sector and Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of promotions under way this year to grow this type of tourism to Northern Ireland. Familiarisation visits like this are an important element of that programme, to showcase to influential decision-makers at first-hand what Northern Ireland has to offer. The superb meetings, incentive and transport infrastructure on offer, coupled with our distinctive cultural experience, means that Northern Ireland is a more attractive destination than ever before for the business tourism sector. Tourism Ireland is highlighting the good value rates available for meetings and conferences from hotels and other suppliers, as well as the ease of access from GB.”