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19 Sep 2017

New York launch for Belfast International Arts Festival

This year’s Belfast International Arts Festival was launched in New York yesterday (Monday, 18 September), at an event hosted by Tourism Ireland, Invest NI and the Northern Ireland Bureau. The event was attended by Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister, and by Richard Wakely, Director of the Belfast International Arts Festival.

The event – which was an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on Northern Ireland and Belfast – was attended by influential American arts and lifestyle journalists, as well as representatives of the travel trade and businesses in New York. Footage from previous festivals was shown during the evening and, to provide a “taste of Northern Ireland” for the guests, the food and drinks were co-ordinated by New York’s award-winning bar, the Dead Rabbit, which is owned by two Belfast men. 

Belfast International Arts Festival is one of the many festivals being promoted by Tourism Ireland around the world this autumn, particularly to our important ‘culturally curious’ audience.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America said: “We were delighted to co-host the New York launch of this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival. Events and festivals like the Belfast International Arts Festival are a really important part of our overall tourism offering and are a key message in our promotions of Northern Ireland around the world – particularly to our ‘culturally curious’ audience.

“In 2016, we welcomed a quarter of a million North American visitors to Northern Ireland and the most recent figures for 2017 confirm growth of +31% in the first quarter. Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that growth continues and we are rolling out an extensive programme of promotions throughout the remainder of 2017, to highlight Northern Ireland here in the United States and elsewhere around the world.”

  Richard Wakely, Belfast International Arts Festival; Councillor Nuala McAllister, Lord Mayor of Belfast; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America; and Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington, in New York’s lower Manhattan outside Pier A, with the One World Trade Center building in the background.

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 61,300 jobs.
  • In 2016, we welcomed a record 2.1 million overseas visitors to Northern Ireland, delivering revenue of over £543 million. 
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted about 19.37 million visitors in 2016.