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Belfast City

Belfast Businesses Encouraged to Join Global Green Tourism Industry Award Scheme

Visit Belfast and Belfast City Council have launched a powerful new initiative designed to rapidly advance sustainability within the city’s tourism sector and redefine the sector’s growth for a generation.

Designed to help individual tourism businesses contribute to improving the environment, address climate change and lift the local economy, a new partnership with global sustainability experts, Green Tourism, will encourage eligible local businesses to boost their environmental credentials and be rewarded for their efforts through an international award.

Offering Belfast businesses the chance to secure gold, silver or bronze accreditation for their efforts to meet best-practice standards in sustainability – with membership funded by Belfast City Council – the Green Tourism Award is the largest and most established sustainable certification programme in the world.

The initiative will help tackle the climate emergency, improve Belfast’s sustainability credentials as a destination and help the industry compete within a changing and competitive marketplace. It also recognises changing consumer behaviour in favour of more sustainable and ethical visitor destinations.

Speaking at the “Sustainable Belfast” launch event, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl said:

“Covid-19 has changed how we think and feel about the world around us and it provided us with renewed opportunity and commitment to rebuild Belfast in a different way. We know that we must all play our part – individually, collectively and across society. Regardless of industry or sector, we all bear responsibility for stopping and reversing the effects of climate change on our planet.”


Belfast City Council declared a climate change emergency in October 2019 and unveiled the city’s first Climate Plan last year.

“Belfast City Council is committed to taking action on climate change, and it is something that I will be focusing on in my year as Lord Mayor. I’m pleased to launch this initiative, which recognises the role the tourism industry can play in transitioning to an inclusive, zero emissions economy within a generation,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Taking urgent action on climate change will not only protect our city’s natural environment, but also our built heritage and cultural assets that make this city a wonderful place to live, work and visit.”

Visit Belfast’s three-year recovery plan, Rebuilding City Tourism 2021-24, sets out a new direction of travel for tourism promotion. The plans focus on supporting sustainable tourism recovery while moving to a greener and more inclusive tourism model. The landmark plan also forces a rethink about what a new and successful tourism destination looks like.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said:

“Even before Covid-19, visitors and policymakers were taking a more critical look at tourism and its potential impacts. Tourists and visitors are more culturally and environmentally aware, more health conscious, and want to seek out unique, indigenous and sharable experiences in destinations that demonstrate support for its people, place and planet.

“Partnership has been a central pillar of Visit Belfast’s success for more than two decades, and by facing these challenges together, we will succeed in rebuilding tourism to the Belfast city region for the betterment of businesses, our employees, our residents and our visitors.”

As part of the launch the launch of this new initiative, Visit Belfast has also announced that it has received a bronze accreditation from Green Tourism.

Gerry added: “As the City’s Destination Marketing Organisation, we know that improving our sustainability credentials will be key to securing fresh business in the new normal. That’s why securing an independent, third party accreditation from a recognised authority is so important.

“We have a bold ambition – to have 50% of our tourism and hospitality businesses committed to going for a Green Tourism Award in the next 12 months, supporting a green recovery and positioning Belfast as a sustainable destination.”

The new partnership will allow tourism and hospitality business within the council area to apply for the internationally recognised Green Tourism Standard, thanks to funding and support from Belfast City Council and Visit Belfast. The Green Tourism Standard recognises an organisation that works responsibly, ethically and sustainably, contributes to their community, is reducing their impact on the environment and aims to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.

Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive of Green Tourism, said: “We very excited to be partnering with Visit Belfast and the Belfast City Council to help deliver their bold and ambitious green tourism plans for the city. Belfast’s commitment to greening their tourism businesses and destination is very forward-thinking and at a level I have not experienced before. It is truly to be commended and hopefully an example to other destinations looking to put sustainability standards at the top of the agenda and at the same time support their local businesses as they build back better from the impact of Covid-19.”

Belfast City

Cathedral Quarter BID Celebrates Success Of Street Beat Police Presence In Area

An initiative that saw additional dedicated police officers patrolling Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has been welcomed as a proven success story by Destination CQ’s manager Damien Corr.

The Ballot for the continuation of the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) is currently open until September 22. In an independent survey carried out in advance of the ballot, the Street Beat (#streetbeat) programme was seen as one of the key projects that adds value for businesses and organisations in the area, over 90% of respondents prioritised it for inclusion in the Business Plan for the next 5 years.

The StreetBeat officers are paid for by the BID and are additional to the normal policing provided by PSNI. The initiative was a direct response to local business owners’ concerns regarding antisocial activity within the areas. 

BID manager Damien Corr said: “As the businesses are paying for the service, it was essential that they felt in ‘control’, accordingly the officers have a designated phone which our Cathedral Quarter businesses can call direct 07787432635. This ability to bypass the general PSNI Switchboard is key to a more effective localised response.”

The officers patrol the area on foot and in their distinctive CQ street beat branded vehicle, dealing with anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. They also visit premises offering practical security and personnel safety advice and equipment.

StreetBeat PSNI officer Michael Gillies added: “Being given the time and support both by the BID and PSNI management, I have been allowed to focus my work specifically within the Cathedral Quarter and its needs. 

“This has helped to strengthen relationships already made with businesses and also to forge new ones. It’s back to basics Neighbourhood policing, only this time the neighbourhood is my local business community”.

However, the future of the scheme in the Cathedral Quarter relies on a ‘yes’ vote for a new five-year term for the Business Improvement District organisation Destination CQ.

With ballot papers already issued and voting by post closing on September 22, Mr Corr is keen to remind voters of what could be lost without their votes.

“The BID levy payers have told us that they really appreciate the work done by our Street Beat officers who, between them, have provided 2080 extra policing hours targeted patrolling,” he said. 

“They were particularly effective over lockdown when lots of properties were left unattended. Our officers continued to patrol, checking on closed business premises and providing assurance and practical assistance to those who continued to work.

“It is a simple reality, that unless we get a yes vote in the ballot, aloof this additional targeted policing will be lost to Cathedral Quarter.”

Sorcha Woolsy, Operations Director of Beannchor with a number of businesses in the BID area said the BID has carried out a number of projects that have impacted the Beannchor suite of businesses.

“The one that really stands out to me is the provision of the City Centre Beat Officers,” she added.

“It’s a really good example of an initiative that a BID can provide that an individual business could not on their own. 

“For me, it is imperative to vote yes on the re-ballot of the BID. The collective energy and brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own.”

For more information on the work of Destination CQ and Street Beat go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.

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Belfast City

CQ BID Celebrates Five Years Of Being Voice For All In Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District, Destination CQ, has for five years been the collective voice for every business in the area, lobbying and consulting with local and regional government and government agencies.

Destination CQ Manager, Damien Corr said the ability to go to these organisations and speak for everyone in the Cathedral Quarter, Smithfield and Union, is one that can’t go unnoticed.

“We are involved in most stakeholder groups in the city and that’s something that our levy payers don’t see a lot of,” he explained. 

“It takes up a lot of our time but it’s very worthwhile.

“The ability to lobby for individual businesses, or for the entire area, direct to departments is important, and we work away on issues until we are successful or reach an acceptable compromise.”

The pressures of the pandemic, shop closures and the complete halt to tourism have affected the economy as a whole but it also had a significant effect on the Cathedral Quarter. This inner-city neighbourhood, characterised by arts, culture, restaurants, entertainment and independent shops relies on tourists and visitors to survive.  

Over the past five years, Destination CQ has represented business interests at City Reopening Stakeholder Group, City Centre Anti-Social Behaviour Action Group and the Small Business Forum.

At present there is a ballot to continue the BID’s work for a further five years and voting Yes to the BID means local businesses can present a unified front and have a collective voice when engaging with the various stakeholders, either local government or assembly level.

When asked about the importance of banding together to present a collective voice, Sorcha Wolsey, Operations Director for the Beannchor Group and Destination CQ BID Board member said it was important that businesses come together.

“The collective energy, brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own,” she said.

The business improvement district has been actively championing the area, partnering with promotional activities such as the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to help restaurants in the area recover from the effects of the pandemic. 

There have been numerous BID led initiatives that greatly benefited businesses in the neighbourhood. Culture Night and Restaurant Week are just some examples of the projects that make CQ a vibrant place to do business. 

Board member and Director of Quigg Golden, Gavin Hendrie said Cathedral Quarter needed a body to explain the issues and promote the area.

“We need a champion for the area,” he explained. “We need the BID to help advertise the CQ as a place to come, to maintain the sense of vibrancy that we’ve known in the past and perhaps lost in the last 18 months.”

Supporting local businesses remains one of the three pillars the Business Improvement District plans to focus on in term two. Collective advocacy is still a priority with creating a strong alliance among stakeholders and ensuring BID members’ voice is heard in key city-wide discussions.

Les Hume, Vice-Chair of CQ BID explained why it is crucial to be represented as a collective:

“By being part of a collective we can present a reasoned, well thought through debate, we can actually bring our concerns and our troubles to the people who make the key decisions,” he said. 

“I think that in the next five years we’re going to have even greater challenges as we try to build Belfast back better.

“To vote yes for this BID process means that your voice can be heard, along with mine hopefully. Together we’ll make Belfast better.

“Individually we will struggle. That’s what I think is good about a Business Improvement District, so please do consider voting yes.”

For more information on how the work of Destination CQ BID can benefit your business go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.

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