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Tourism NI & Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) Ireland combine to host first ever Northern Ireland workshop in Belfast

Tourism NITourism NI working in partnership with ITOA – Inbound Tour Operators Association – Ireland has announced that ITOA will host its first ever sales workshop in Northern Ireland at Titanic Hotel Belfast on 13 November, as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations.

Darren Byrne (President, ITOA) Rob Rankin (Vagabond Tours) and John McGrillen (Chief Executive, Tourism NI)

The Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) is the representative association of Ireland’s premier inbound tour operators. The workshop in Belfast will offer a unique opportunity for tourism businesses in Northern Ireland to engage with the 33 ITOA member organisations, through a series of sales appointments. Membership of the ITOA includes Ireland’s largest and long-established Tour Operators, Handling Agents and Destination Management Companies. Collectively in 2017 the organisation spent €13m overseas marketing and selling Ireland and its tourism businesses, which in turn delivered 737,000 overseas holidays and business visitors to the island of Ireland that year with a spend of €264m with Irish tourism businesses.

Announcing the event, Darren Byrne, President of the ITOA said “In honour of our 40th Anniversary celebrations this year we wanted to mark the occasion with a number of new initiatives, an important one of note being the hosting of an inaugural sales workshop in Northern Ireland.

We have worked closely with the team at Tourism NI to deliver this important event for both our members and Northern Ireland tourism businesses. We plan to make this an annual event and a key promotional event in the Northern Ireland Tourism trade promotion calendar. Tourism in Northern Ireland is flourishing with so much variety to offer the overseas visitor. This workshop offers a fantastic opportunity for those working within the tourism industry in Northern Ireland to tell our members exactly what they have to offer and why visitors should come to them.”

Commenting on the arrival of the first ever ITOA workshop to Northern Ireland, John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI said “This is a fantastic opportunity for those operating in the tourism industry in Northern Ireland to make members of the ITOA aware of the products and experiences that are available to visitors here in Northern Ireland and the compelling reasons why they should be included in an ITOA itinerary. ITOA members engage with over 4,000 international travel trade clients, so being included in their product offering, provides our tourism businesses with an opportunity to attract more international visitors.

Tourism NI has worked hard locally with the tourism industry and on international selling platforms to develop and market world-class visitor attractions, accommodation, activities and hospitality that positions Northern Ireland as a must-see destination.

2017 was a really strong year for tourism in Northern Ireland with record visitor numbers of nearly five million people, an unprecedented visitor spend of £926m and 2 million hotel rooms sold, an increase of 4% on the previous year. Early signs for 2018-2019 are also very positive with latest tourism performance statistics released by NISRA for January to March 2018 indicating visitor spend reached record levels of £180m, an increase of £13m compared with the same period in 2017.

We want to ensure this level of success continues. As a destination, Northern Ireland has much to offer the international visitor from a high standard and variety of accommodation to award winning unique visitor attractions and available activities. Now is the time to seize the opportunity to grow international tourism and the ITOA workshop in Belfast is the perfect place to do this.”

Registration for tourism businesses in Northern Ireland wishing to attend the workshop is now open and can be completed online at www.itoa-ireland.com.

Spaces are limited and demand for this inaugural workshop is expected to be high, therefore early booking is advisable.

Final closing date for registration is Friday 26th October at 5pm. Please note registration will close once the maximum number of Northern Ireland trade places is reached.