Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is delighted to announce that 26 beaches and marinas across the country have achieved standards of excellence at their annual Beach and Marina Awards. The focus of this years’ event is to celebrate Northern Ireland’s stunning array of blue spaces and raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy marine environment and the positive connection between the outdoors and our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The Beach and Marina Awards are internationally recognised awards that highlight how Northern Ireland’s blue spaces are something to take pride in, look after and enjoy; with the awards also giving an opportunity to celebrate those key workers who maintain our local beaches and marinas to such high standards.
The internationally renowned Blue Flag will be flown at eight of Northern Ireland’s beaches and six marinas during the 2021 season. The Blue Flag award is certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and has 49 participating countries globally. Northern Ireland’s 14 blue space locations will join the 4,820 beaches, marinas or boats that proudly fly the Blue Flag around the world. Beach and marina operators receiving a Blue Flag are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the coastal environment, excellent water quality, water safety, and providing access for all, along with providing engaging educational activities on-site.
The Seaside Award and Green Coast Award are national standards for beaches in Northern Ireland, these programmes ensure visitors of a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed beach with the facilities provided being appropriate for the location of the beach. One beach has received the Green Coast Award and eleven beaches have received the Seaside Award in 2021.
The Award Flags may only be flown if all the criteria are successfully met at time of application, with standards maintained throughout the entirety of the bathing season.
Northern Ireland’s coastline has numerous iconic sights, and many of our award-winning beaches include, or are next to, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with specially protected habitats and species forming a large part of the experience visitors enjoy. The aim of these award programmes is to improve the connection between people and their surroundings by encouraging them to spend time in and learn more about their coastal environment. Many award-winning beaches and marinas provide information points to showcase the best of Northern Ireland’s wildlife and provide visitors with information on how they can enjoy these natural wonders without disturbing or damaging them.
Information on the award-winning blue spaces can be found at www.beachni.com and www.liveherelovehere.app.
Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said “The past year has restricted our ability to travel and meet people. Yet, we are fortunate to have such great local blue spaces right on our doorstep. All of us can be rightly proud of this beautiful place we call home. Behind every one of these special places are dedicated key workers whose effort all year round keeps these blue spaces in such excellent condition. These awards are a small way of saying thank you and recognising that we have so much to be proud of in our community”
A Step Back in Time at Crumlin Road Gaol
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has visited the five-star tourist attraction at Crumlin Road Gaol Visitor Attraction and Conference Centre which reopened to visitors last month.
The Minister was given a tour of the historic Gaol, Northern Ireland’s only remaining Victorian era prison, by Managing Director Phelim Devlin.
Speaking afterwards the Minister said: “I am delighted to be here to experience at first-hand the fascinating insight into more than 150 years of history and see it brought to life with the latest technology, amazing figures, furnished cells, films, sound effects and exhibitions. I also had the opportunity to hear of future plans to enhance the visitor experience further.
“Crumlin Road Gaol has experienced a protracted period of closure due to Covid pandemic restrictions but it is pleasing and reassuring to see the measures which have been put in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable return for visitors.
“I would encourage everyone to visit the Gaol for a tour of this historic building and with all the new exhibits now on offer I can highly recommend a return visit to those of you who, like me, have visited in the past. The experience is both captivating and educational with something for all ages to enjoy.”
Managing Director of the Gaol, Phelim Devlin commented: “We were delighted to have the Minister visit the facility. During lockdown we took the opportunity to improve the historic tour and to introduce a more hands on visitor experience. We are thrilled to have been able to re-open our doors again and welcome visitors to the site.”
The Walled City of Derry Makes Shortlist for Leading Emerging Tourism Destination
Derry~Londonderry has made the shortlist for Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination 2021 at The World Travel Awards; a prestigious global tourism awards programme nicknamed the Oscar’s of Travel. The Walled City of Derry is one of eight finalists in with a chance of scooping the big prize and is competing alongside other emerging city destinations across Europe.
Renowned as one of the finest examples of a Walled City in Europe and the primary destination for cultural and heritage experiences on the island, Derry is a worthy nominee and needs your votes to help scoop the top spot.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, commented: “We are delighted to be nominated for this award. We know our historic and dynamic city is unique and deserves to be recognised on a worldwide stage. Tourism is a key economic driver for the region, and we are thrilled it has been recognised as a rising destination in Europe. It is a major boost for the local tourism industry and provides great publicity for the city region and Northern Ireland.”
Odhran Dunne, Chief Executive of Visit Derry continued: “We are delighted Derry has been nominated for Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination. Being a finalist in this prestigious award, puts us on a world stage as we begin to emerge from the covid crises and rebuild tourism. It strengthens our international appeal and rewards the commitment of all players in our local industry to position the city region as a must-visit destination. We have all the ingredients of a standout destination, centred on our historic City Walls, heritage, renowned lively cultural and events scene and strategic geographic location to be nominated for the award is fantastic. We look forward to the global industry and travel consumers recognising our emerging potential and giving us their vote!”
International voting is now open, and the winner will be the finalist who gains the most votes. To vote for Derry as Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination, visit www.visitderry.com/vote. Voting closes on 14th July 2021.