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18 Mar 2015

Targeting big business for Northern Ireland

Influential American meeting and conference planners visit Northern Ireland

Six decision-makers from some of the top American business tourism companies are visiting Northern Ireland this week, as guests of Tourism Ireland, Hastings Hotels and Moloney & Kelly Travel (leading Irish destination management company).

The group includes senior representatives of companies involved in the MICE (meetings, incentive, conferences and events) sector in the US, who organise international conferences, meetings and large-scale incentive events around the world. They are here to discover more about the facilities and accommodation on offer in Northern Ireland, as well as the great experiences business delegates can enjoy here on the side-lines of their conference or meeting.

In Belfast, the business tourism buyers enjoyed a guided tour of the city, with stops at Titanic Belfast, Queen’s University and Belfast City Hall, before an overnight stay at the Culloden Hotel at Cultra. The next day, the group took part in a Games of Thrones tour at Castle Ward in Strangford, before stopping off for a show-around at Ballywalter Park, the home of Lord and Lady Dunleath. They also visited Hillsborough Castle and enjoyed an afternoon’s racing at Down Royal. En route to the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, the group stopped off at the Kilbroney Park Narnia Exhibition, near Rostrevor. Their final day was spent following the St Patrick Footprint Tour around Downpatrick and a drive through the spectacular Mourne Mountains and Silent Valley.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, said: “We are delighted that these influential business tourism decision-makers have taken the time to visit Northern Ireland, to experience for themselves some of the superb facilities on offer here. Seeing is believing – so fact-finding visits like this are extremely important to help build awareness of the destination and our world-class business tourism offering among key influencers in the United States.

“Business tourism is an important, high yield sector and Tourism Ireland is working hard to continue to raise awareness of Northern Ireland as a world-class conference and business tourism destination. Our work involves building relationships with influential MICE buyers and providing effective platforms for our Northern Ireland industry partners to ‘close the sale’. Our messages are highlighting the excellent meetings, incentive and transport infrastructure available in Belfast and Northern Ireland – and particularly showcasing the new facilities at the Waterfront Hall. We are also highlighting the good value rates on offer for meetings and conferences; interesting pre- and post-conference programmes around Northern Ireland; as well as improving access to Northern Ireland’s three airports.”

Business tourism is one of the highest yield sectors in tourism, with the average spend of business travellers being significantly higher than that of leisure tourists.

  Michael Dalton (third right) and Angela Fitzgerald (right), both Moloney & Kelly Travel, with American business tourism buyers Katie Smith, Meister Media Worldwide; Shelly Strubert, Maritz Travel Company; Doreen Kirby, Hosts Global Alliance; and Staci Hynd, Traveline Travel Services, taking part in a Game of Thrones tour at Castle Ward, Co Down.

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 5.2% of GDP in Northern Ireland and supports approximately 43,000 jobs.
  • In 2014, we welcomed an estimated 1.8 million overseas visitors to Northern Ireland, delivering revenue of about £508 million.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, available in ten different language versions for over 30 individual markets around the world. In 2014, attracted about 14.25 million visitors.