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01 Nov 2021

Lyons leads drive to restart overseas tourism to Northern Ireland in 2022, at world’s largest travel fair

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has joined Tourism Ireland and 12 tourism businesses from Northern Ireland at World Travel Market (WTM) in London today. 

WTM heralds the beginning of Northern Ireland’s promotional drive overseas for the year ahead. As we restart travel from overseas, Northern Ireland’s presence at World Travel Market is more important than ever this year. Every destination across the globe has experienced the impact of COVID-19 and is now seeking its share of the recovery. Northern Ireland is therefore aiming to capture the attention of the global media and travel professionals in attendance. 

This year, WTM is a hybrid event – with the live event taking place over three days between the 1-3 November, and the virtual meetings taking place on 8-9 November. In all, some 25 Northern Ireland tourism companies will engage in important meetings with GB and international tour operators – to negotiate and exchange vital contracts for 2022.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I welcome the opportunity to be here in person at World Travel Market in London. The scale of this important event in the tourism calendar has brought home to me the competition we face as we continue in our journey to restore the tourism sector to the success it was prior to the pandemic.  Our tourism and hospitality industry were particularly hard hit by the pandemic and necessary restrictions however I am pleased that we have started the road to recovery and travellers are returning to our shores.  

“My Department and I work closely with both Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland and over the last decade have undertaken extensive marketing campaigns to promote Northern Ireland as an international travel destination. Northern Ireland has captured the attention of the global travel industry with awards from Lonely Planet to National Geographic and we have hosted many major conferences, sporting and cultural events. Most recently, I was pleased to welcome the news that The Open would return to Portrush in 2025. With this positive news I am confident we will soon be welcoming the record visitor numbers of 2019.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “As we restart tourism from overseas, we are delighted that Minister Lyons is joining us this week at World Travel Market, the world’s largest travel fair. The representation of Northern Ireland companies at WTM is extremely welcome – and essential in the highly competitive international marketplace. Every destination across the globe has experienced the impact of COVID-19 and is now seeking its share of the recovery. Tourism Ireland’s aim, therefore, is to stand out from the crowd and to capture the attention of the global media and travel professionals in attendance.

“This autumn, Tourism Ireland has been rolling out a £5 million promotional programme in GB, highlighting Northern Ireland’s great cities, spectacular scenery and the many things to see and do. Our ‘Green Button’ campaign is now under way in GB, with an extensive programme of activity which will reach 46 million people and will continue to drive awareness of Northern Ireland as a great destination for a short break or holiday.” 

Before COVID-19, overseas tourism delivered about £566 million per year for the Northern Ireland economy, helping to sustain valuable employment in local communities.
  Christopher Brooke, Vice-Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland; and Judith Cassidy, Tourism Ireland’s Deputy Head of GB, at World Travel Market in London.

Notes To Editors

Northern Ireland tourism companies on the Tourism Ireland stand at World Travel Market 2021 include:
•    Ards and North Down Borough Council
•    Andras Hotel Group
•    Historic Royal Palaces – Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
•    Lough Neagh Tours
•    Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
•    Northern Ireland Embrace a Giant Spirit experience
•    Titanic Belfast
•    Visit Armagh 
•    Visit Belfast
•    Visit Causeway Coast & Glens
•    Visit Derry
•    Visit Mourne