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Newcastle Scoops Top NITB Award
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NEWCASTLE  has added anothet top award to its collection of awards with last year’s Harry Ferguson Festival of Flight being highly commended in the ‘Excellent Events’ category of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board Annual Awards.

Last August the event saw over 150,000 people visit the town over two days with an estimated £3 million in tourism revenue generated in the local area.

Following the event, Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Dermot Curran commented, “This is yet another great success for tourism in Down, supporting local business and employment, and we look forward to another great summer event this year featuring a series of aerial spectacles and great outdoor music events.”

The Harry Ferguson Festival of Flight won the Highly Commended award for in the Excellent Events category at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards. Pictured are Susie McCullough, NITB, Audrey Byrne, Chairperson of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, Diane Poole OBE, Stenaline, Down District Council Chairman Councillor Dermot Curran, Councillor John Doris and Festival of Flight Event Officer Ann Moreland.

Council Director of Economic and Cultural Development, Sharon O’Connor, paid tribute to the contribution of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and to the leadership of Audrey Byrne,  the Chamber chairperson. Ms O’Connor said, “Newcastle has won a series of accolades recently and the contribution of the business community has been critical in terms of the presentation of the town and of individual local businesses. Down District Council would like to thank all those who enthusiastically support the town, helping Newcastle become one of the highest quality resorts on the island.”

Also highly commended at the gala awards, the Mourne Seafood Cookery School based in Kilkeel lifted  another gong for Co Down.

Over 270 members from the local tourism industry gathered  for the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards at the Ramada Hotel, on the outskirts of Belfast. Organised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in partnership with Diageo Northern Ireland, the awards celebrate and showcase the very best of local tourism.

Addressing guests, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said that she was privileged to return as Tourism Minister to oversee Northern Ireland’s year of opportunity in 2012, the UK City of Culture title for Londonderry in 2013, as well as a host of other exciting tourism developments over the next two years.

Minister Foster said, “2012 and 2013 will be our chance to shine. The opening of the world class Titanic visitor attraction and the state-of-the-art Giant’s Causeway centre, together with the UK City of Culture title in 2013 for Londonderry will give Northern Ireland huge competitive advantage. The challenge lies with all of us in the tourism sector to fully maximise the potential and really put Northern Ireland on the map.

“This year’s award winners are already leading the way in terms of quality, customer service and putting the visitor at the centre of everything they do. I am confident that with businesses and organisations such as these at the forefront of the industry, Northern Ireland tourism is poised to significantly contribute to the economy in the years ahead.”

Pamela Houston, Mourne Seafood Cookery School received the Highly Commended award from Niall Mehaffy, Bushmills Distillery and Kathryn Thomson, NITB in the Taste of Northern Ireland category at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

Awards were presented in a variety of categories, including Excellent Events, Taste of NI and Best Visitor Experience. In the NI Heros award category, which acknowledges an individual’s involvement and impact on local tourism, tributes were paid to the late Frank O’Neill of the Londonderry Arms Hotel, Carnlough, who passed away in February this year.

NITB Chairman Howard Hastings said, Tourism has had a massive £300 million investment from the headline projects in Belfast, Londonderry and the Causeway, to smaller scale improvements from the Glens to Fermanagh. We expect to boost visitor numbers, attract an additional £140 million in revenue and create over 3,000 new jobs as a result of activity in the next two years.”

“Over the next twelve months as we emerge from recession many tourism businesses will have to evolve their plans, diversify their options and work in partnership as there are signs that consumers plan to spend more on short breaks and leisure than last year. I would urge Northern Ireland tourism businesses to be flexible, and to adapt and seize all opportunities as a way to ensure future growth.”

Michael McCann, Head of Diageo Northern Ireland said, “Diageo is delighted to support the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards for a third year running. The tourism sector continues to have an increasingly important role in our future economic success and I believe tremendous potential exists for growth.”

“I would like to congratulate this evening’s winners; you are the key to continued success and future development of our tourism industry. I would also like to commend all those who work so hard to ensure the continued successful marketing of Northern Ireland to visitors at home and abroad.”


Winners, Highly Commended and Commended, with corresponding sponsors:

Excellent Events – Sponsored by Stena Line Irish Sea Ferries
*  Winner: Open House Festival
*  Highly Commended: Harry Ferguson Festival of Flight, Down District Council
*  Commended: Fatboy Slim at Giant’s Park, PLM Promotions

Taste of Northern Ireland – Sponsored by Diageo Northern Ireland
*  Winner: The Parson’s Nose
*  Highly Commended: Mourne Seafood Cookery School
*  Commended: Pier 36

Hotel Accommodation – Sponsored by Invest NI
*  Winner: Lough Erne Resort
*  Highly Commended: The Merchant Hotel
*  Commended: Westville Hotel

Serviced Accommodation – Sponsored by NITB
*  Winner: Rayanne House
*  Highly Commended: Newforge House
*  Commended: Belmore Court and Motel

Non-Serviced Accommodation – Sponsored by NITB
*  Winner: Maddybenny Mews
*  Highly Commended: Ballydougan Pottery Courtyard Cottages
*  Commended: Fools Haven Thatched Cottage
*  Commended: Victoria Apartments

Best Visitor Experience – Sponsored by NITB
*  Winner: National Museums Northern Ireland, Ulster Museum
*  Highly Commended: Belfast City Hall
*  Commended: W5

Visitor Inspired – Sponsored by People1st and the Department for Employment and Learning
*  Winner: Belfast Zoological Gardens
*  Highly Commended: Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau

Marketing and Sales Excellence – Sponsored by Tourism Ireland
*  Winner: Killyhevlin Hotel and Health Club
*  Highly Commended: Ballinderry Station Cottage

Tourism Partnership Initiative – Sponsored by Tourism Ireland
*  Winner: Destination Fermanagh
*  Highly Commended: Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau
*  Commended: National Trust: Waterways Ireland Lough Erne Classic Yacht Regatta

New Tourism Project – Sponsored by NITB
*  Winner: Belfast City Council: Music Tourism
*  Highly Commended: Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust: Économusée
*  Commended: Greater Shankill Partnership

Outstanding Contribution to Tourism – Sponsored by NITB and Diageo Northern Ireland

*  Winner: Belfast City Council

NI Heroes – Sponsored by NITB
*  Winner: Frank (Frankie) O’Neill, Londonderry Arms Hotel