More than 40 tour operators from across the world descended on Titanic Belfast this morning, to attend a tourism workshop jointly organised by Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Leading tour operators from seven countries – including China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Russia and the Gulf Countries – will meet and do business today with 90 representatives of the tourism industry from around Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland, through a day-long series of one-on-one appointments in Titanic Belfast, followed by an informal networking event at the Ulster Museum.
Now in its seventh year, this is the third time the New Markets workshop has been hosted in Northern Ireland, following similar successful events here in 2008 and 2011. The workshop aims to grow Northern Ireland’s share of travel business from new and emerging tourism markets. In advance of today’s event, many of the visiting tour operators have been travelling around Northern Ireland, sampling what the destination has to offer their clients.
Jim Paul, Tourism Ireland’s head of Australia and developing markets, said: “Whilst the majority of our overseas visitors come from GB, North America and Mainland Europe, it is important that we expand our focus and look outside these markets for new opportunities. While visitor numbers from markets like China and India are small right now, when compared to our more established tourism markets, it is important to remember that visitors from long-haul markets spend more than the average visitor and typically stay longer than visitors from closer to home.
“We are delighted that our 2013 New Markets workshop is back in Belfast, giving our tourism partners here, and from across the island of Ireland, the opportunity to network and do business with travel decision-makers from China, India, the Middle East, South Africa, Brazil and Russia. We see the relationship between our industry partners here and the overseas travel trade as being absolutely critical in helping us to realise the potential of these new markets. Our aim is to increase awareness of Northern Ireland among these hugely influential tour operators and to help our tourism partners here secure a greater share of travel business from those new and emerging markets.”
Naomi Waite, Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s director of marketing, added: “I’m delighted to once again welcome this event to Northern Ireland, which has now become a significant addition to our tourism promotional calendar. Given the significance of these markets to Northern Ireland, which are predicted to be the fastest-growing markets over the next decade, it is great to see a record number of industry attending and showcasing the unique quality of their tourism offerings to some of the world’s most influential tour operators.”