Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has launched a targeted consultation on a taxi fares review as part of her ongoing plans to assist the taxi industry as they rebuild following the Covid restrictions.
The Department has written to all stakeholders, including the Consumer Council, to seek their views on proposals to increase the maximum taxi fare tariff across Northern Ireland.
Minister Mallon said: “Throughout the pandemic I have engaged regularly with the taxi sector and acknowledged the pressures that they have been under. I provided £16.7million of support to existing drivers from the two financial support schemes and regulatory support that I put in place last year and I remain committed to working with the sector in continuing to monitor the impact of Covid restrictions on them.
“Last week I announced an Action Plan to provide further support to the taxi industry and a key part of that was the intention to consult on taxi fares, as this was a specific concern raised during our engagement with the taxi sector.
“The targeted consultation launching today is aimed at people involved in the taxi industry in Northern Ireland, including taxi operators and drivers. It will also consider consumers who use taxi services through engagement with the Consumer Council. My Department has written directly today to all those in the sector and the Consumer Council and I would encourage responses by 5.00pm on Friday 15 October.
“Once the responses have been analysed my officials will provide a report for my consideration. Following consideration of the feedback, I would hope to be in a position to implement any proposed changes before the Christmas 2021 period, subject to the necessary legislative changes.”
The consultation documents are available on the DfI website at: Taxi Fare Increase Targeted Public Consultation
Galgorm Bathes in Success at World Luxury Hotel Awards
Galgorm has scored a hat trick of awards for excellence at this year’s World Luxury Hotel Awards, cementing the Resort’s status as Northern Ireland’s premier luxury destination and elevating the region’s tourism credentials to the global stage.
Recognising Galgorm’s globally renowned, award-winning golf course, which has played host to the Irish Open and is home of the ISPS Handa World Invitational, the Resort was crowned ‘Best Luxury Golf Resort’ in Europe whilst also collecting the title of ‘Best Luxury Golf Resort Spa’ for Galgorm’s award-winning and internationally acclaimed Thermal Village & Spa.
The Resort’s 3 AA Rosette restaurant, The River Room, was also celebrated for its exceptional food, with Head Chef Chris Rees winning the accolade of ‘Best Head Chef’ in Northern Europe, a testament to his commitment to outstanding quality and culinary excellence.
The 15th World Luxury Hotel Awards were held this year in Mauritius and celebrate the best in world-class hotel service excellence, representing the pinnacle of achievement in the luxury hotel industry.
This year, Galgorm was one of only five resorts around the globe to receive the prestigious regional title and one of only three hotels in the island of Ireland to be officially recognised by the awards.
Galgorm Collection Managing Director Colin Johnston said;
“We are thrilled to be recognised by the World Travel Awards for our sustained commitment to excellence and outstanding achievement in the international luxury hospitality industry and to receive three highly coveted awards across our accommodation, spa and restaurant offering.
As the region’s premier luxury tourism destination, we are committed to further developing our world-class hospitality provision and we have invested heavily in the Resort in recent years to expand our accommodation and spa offering and offer an unrivalled, luxury experience.
The awards offers us a chance to showcase our unique offering to a global audience and gain worldwide recognition for our best-in-class facilities and service, competing with some of the world’s most acclaimed hotels, and promoting Northern Ireland as a must-visit destination.”
Voted by guests, travellers and industry players alike through an online public vote, the awards reflect the hard work and dedication exhibited by the exceptional team at Galgorm and its unparalleled service offering.
Attended by guests from across the globe, the awards took place at a prestigious ceremony in Trou aux Biches Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa, Mauritius, on Saturday 9 October.
World Luxury Awards Marketing Director, Michael Hunter-Smith, said;
“We congratulate this year’s winners. True luxury is not easily attained. It takes highly efficient and dedicated staff who are willing to go the extra mile and stop at nothing to ensure that every guest feels cared for and that no challenge goes unresolved. This is the definition of luxury. It is what makes the winners shine.”
Over the past ten years, Galgorm has invested more than £60 million into its facilities. The investment has helped lead to a string of accolades for the Resort as it takes its place on the world-stage as a luxury spa destination, beating competition from some of the world’s most iconic spa retreats.
Since 2019 Galgorm has dramatically transformed its offering, expanding its hotel and lodging accommodation. This included the upgrade of standard rooms to superior, additional cottage suites and the introduction of three residencies all with private hot tubs, sleeping between 10 and 12 guests.
The award-winning Thermal Spa Village has also been extended across three acres. A £2 million investment into the Resort’s Thermal Spa Village in 2020 included the opening of a new Palm House bar, vitality pool, additional relaxation areas, saunas, hot tubs and a brand new salt cave to accommodate spa visitors. Galgorm was also recently named Best Spa Experience within the UK and Ireland at the Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2021 and crowned Resort Spa of the Year at the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2020.
The Resort has also played host to a range of global events including the World Luxury Spa & Restaurant Awards, host to the R&A and patrons of the 148th Open Championship and host to the 21st National Golf Tourism Conference and 2018 Gala Irish Golf Awards.
Financial Assistance to Promote Tourism Overseas
Tourism NI have teamed up with Tourism Ireland to launch a new support programme for tourism businesses in Northern Ireland as part of the drive to support the sector’s recovery and growth.
The International Market Access Programme will provide financial assistance to local tourism providers to return to overseas sales activity in core markets, reconnect with buyers, generate valuable business leads and promote Northern Ireland as a world-class tourism destination for group leisure, golf, luxury and business events.
Funding of up to £6,500 per applicant is available with the aim of providing local industry with tangible support to re-engage with international buyers, secure contracts for future years and achieve stand out in an increasingly competitive global marketplace against a range of high profile competitors.
The Programme will operate on a pilot basis from 4 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.
Tourism NI’s Business Solutions Manager, Eimear Callaghan said:
“International group business for leisure, luxury, golf and business events has been at a virtual standstill since the onset of the pandemic. Our overseas markets are vitally important and crucial for a balanced tourism portfolio. Our industry is very keen to return to overseas sales activity and reconnect with buyers. I am confident that through the Market Access Programme we can support our businesses by offering greater access to those markets and help them maximise revenue from overseas tourism.”
She added: “We welcome and encourage applications from appropriate Northern Ireland tourism businesses as this support will be critical for our wider tourism economy as they continue to recover.”
Tourism Ireland’s Manager of IMAP, Niamh Kinsella said:
“As we begin to restart tourism from overseas, Tourism Ireland is delighted to partner with Tourism Northern Ireland, to roll out the Northern Ireland Industry Market Access Programme (NI IMAP). We want to work closely with our tourism partners in Northern Ireland, to help them recover as quickly as possible from the effects of the pandemic and rebuild their business from overseas. Through this joint programme, we will support them to get back out to the international marketplace to promote their product or experience and Northern Ireland – through a range of B2B promotions targeting leisure, business, golf, and luxury travellers.
“Tourism Ireland has just launched our ‘Green Button’ campaign in key overseas markets, to generate awareness of the destination and drive bookings for short breaks and holidays here; so, there’s never been a better time for our Northern Ireland industry partners to be active overseas and help drive the return of international visitors to Northern Ireland.”
Deadline for applications is 30th November 2021.
For full details of eligibility criteria and how to apply for the programme, visit here. A briefing webinar for interested industry will take place on Friday 8th October at 10am. Please register here.