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Travel & Tourism

Financial Assistance to Promote Tourism Overseas

Launching the programme (l to r) is Natasha Johnston, Tourism Ireland and Eimear Callaghan, Tourism NI. Photo Credit: William Cherry / Press Eye

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.

Travel & Tourism

4 Towns In Northern Ireland Voted Friendliest Visitor Destinations in UK

Tourism NI has welcomed the news that four towns in Northern Ireland have been awarded the friendliest visitor destinations in the UK with Enniskillen in County Fermanagh voted number one most welcoming in the UK.

Alongside Enniskillen, Ballycastle, County Antrim; Bushmills, County Antrim and Newcastle, County Down all appeared on the top 10 most welcoming list.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the news was a much needed boost for the tourism sector in Northern Ireland that has experienced a two year blow to an industry which was riding high after a record breaking 2019 when revenue surpassed £1 billion for the first time.

He added: “While it has been two years of unprecedented crisis for the industry, I am pleased to know that despite the enormous challenges, our towns have dominated the top 10 list of friendliest visitor destinations. The news comes in the same week as the Game of Thrones Studio Tour opens its doors to the public and will help to put Northern Ireland on the map as a must visit destination for those far and wide.”

McGrillen believes the tourism industry has been incredibly resilient in the face of the global pandemic. 

“There will be brighter opportunities in the years ahead and I have confidence that with the appropriate support, tourism in Northern Ireland will bounce back,” he said. 

Other locations which made the top 10 list were Frome in Somerset; Glastonbury, Somerset: Shetland; Wick, Highlands and Kelso, Scottish Borders.

Following research from more than 232 million verified reviews as part of’s 10th annual Traveller Review Awards, the awards recognise more than 1.25 million travel providers around the world for their hospitality, including 53,623 in the UK.

The winning list was decided by the total share of Traveller Review Award 2022 recipients when compared to the total number of eligible properties in that town or city.

McGrillen added: “Tourism is absolutely vital for us as it provides passengers for our public transport and supports sea and air routes; it generates revenue to support our culture and heritage assets and can contribute to the protection of our natural environment; it provides revenue for central and local government and promotes a positive image of Northern Ireland overseas, supporting foreign direct investment.”

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Travel & Tourism

Experience an ‘out of this world’ Christmas at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory

The Chair of the Council, Councillor Paul McLean and Santa enjoy the Christmas OM Odyssey as part of the OM Santa Experience at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory.

Enjoy an ‘out of this world’ Santa experience this Christmas at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory.

This Christmas, children can enjoy a Santa experience with a difference at the new star gazing facility at Davagh Forest in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains.

During the OM Santa Experience, children, and adults alike, will be utterly ‘star struck’ as they are taken on a tour of the unique facility and then watch the Christmas OM Odyssey, a bespoke festive film capturing Santa’s magical journey through the sky on Christmas Eve.

The festive film will be screened on the side of the OM building, with families watching from a dedicated viewing area using individual headsets.

Children will then get to write their letters to Santa in the crafts room before getting to deliver them in person to the man himself during a special visit where they will receive a stocking full of goodies.

The OM Santa Experience will run over three weekends beginning on Sunday 28 November and finishing on Sunday 12 December. Tickets cost £10 per child and adults go free (limited to two adults per family).

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean is pleased the Council can offer this festive event to families in the district.

“The last 20 months have been extremely difficult for all of us and none more so than for our children who have had to endure so much and adapt to different ways of doing things in almost all aspects of their lives. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration and so it pleases me greatly that we can offer this one-of-a-kind magical Christmas experience to families and children in Mid Ulster this Christmas.

“This year marks OM’s first Christmas, having only opened its doors to the public in June this year. The Santa experience is the perfect debut seasonal event for the centre, complementing and enhancing its already established and successful offering and extending its appeal to the family market.”To book your tickets for the OM Santa Experience, go or telephone the Observatory on: 028 8676 0681

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