Cruise Belfast welcomes global cruise executives to Northern Ireland

Colin McClements, Commercial Director of Belfast Harbour, Rachael McGuickin Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation, Visit Belfast and Naomi Waite, Marketing Director of Tourism NI

The world’s top cruise executives are in Belfast this week to see first-hand the attractions and experiences that are making Northern Ireland an increasingly popular cruise destination.

The three-day Familiarization Trip (Familiarization Trip), coordinated by Cruise Belfast, has been funded by the Department of the Economy as part of Tourism Northern Ireland’s Tourism Recovery Action Plan, and aims to support the ongoing recovery of the sector and to stimulate long-term tourism growth.

After months of close collaboration with industry operators and relevant government and public health agencies, Cruise Belfast successfully completed the safe return of cruise tourism last year, with 72 cruise arrivals to Belfast between June and November.

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Hailing from England, France, Monaco, the Netherlands and the United States, and representing nine international cruise lines operating in European waters, the cruise managers responsible for developing the shore excursion program of their cruise line have been joined by the two main shore excursion companies operating on the island of Ireland.

Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation at Visit Belfast, praised the group trip: “After some of the toughest times for the cruise and tourism industries, it’s great that Cruise Belfast has been able to organize this familiarization trip to Northern Ireland. .

“This provides a significant opportunity for the Belfast Harbor and Visit Belfast teams to reconnect with existing cruise contacts and build new relationships. The trip also gives us the opportunity to promote the first class hospitality facilities and services that Cruise Belfast can provide to cruise operators and showcase a sampling of the attractions and experiences that Northern Ireland can offer cruise passengers. over the next few years.

Highlights of the itinerary include attractions already popular with cruise passengers as well as the introduction of attractions not currently included on shore excursions or those that have opened during or since the pandemic.

Michael Robinson, Port Manager of Belfast Harbour, said: “As a maritime city renowned for its warm welcome, Belfast and Northern Ireland offer unparalleled cruise facilities and tourist experiences. At the height of 2019, Belfast Harbor welcomed 285,000 people and we expect 2022 to be a similar success.

“Collaboration and commitment from the tourism industry enabled Cruise Belfast to safely welcome cruise ships last year and this familiarization trip further strengthens the drive to see cruise tourism levels return. to pre-pandemic levels and ensure long-term sustainable growth.”

Attractions visited include Titanic Belfast, Crumlin Road Gaol, Causeway Coast, Game of Thrones Studio Tour, Hinch Distillery, Hillsborough Castle and the Ulster Folk Museum. Leaders will also enjoy a food tour of the city starting at St George’s Market and an evening of traditional music in the city, as well as meeting representatives of the Titanic Distillery, which is due to open later this year.

Providing the financial backing to develop the insightful itinerary, Naomi Waite, Marketing Director of Tourism NI, added: “The many millions of pounds of investment in our tourism infrastructure and visitor experiences over recent years has placed Belfast and l Ireland in a strong position to rebuild cruise tourism.

“As cruise lines return to business and seek to develop exciting new itineraries to compete in a highly competitive market, it is crucial that we create opportunities for decision makers to experience all that Northern Ireland has to offer. offer by themselves.”

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