The official destination marketing organisation for the Belfast city region, Visit Belfast, has outlined a new strategy to support Belfast's economic recovery when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Visit Belfast outlined the strategy at a virtual event that was attended by Visit Belfast's tourism industry partners and key city stakeholders.
While outlining the strategy, Visit Belfast highlighted the importance of tourism to Belfast's economy and the opportunity for regrowth inside of three years.
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According to Visit Belfast, in 2019, Belfast accounted for £417 million of tourism spend, representing more than 40% of the region's visitor economy and supporting almost 22,000 jobs.
Visit Belfast said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt "a hammer blow" to Belfast's visitor economy, the city is "well placed" to meet the challenges ahead in Visit Belfast's new targeted yet flexible approach to marketing the destination.
Visit Belfast's strategic marketing blueprint is part of a partnership-led approach designed to sustainably re-engage with Belfast's key tourism markets as part of a drive to rebuild the visitor economy in the city in a more sustainable and resilient way.
Visit Belfast said that in a new tourism landscape there would be a priority focus on delivering inclusive growth and protecting and enhancing the local environment by increasing collaboration and partnership across communities and neighbourhoods.
Visit Belfast added that its planned destination marketing activities are focussed on helping to return £330 million to the local economy by 2023-24 (April/March) from a baseline of £30 million in 2020-21 to £150 million at the end of three years.
Belfast Lord Mayor Statement
Speaking at the virtual event, the lord mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubrey, said, "Belfast's tourism industry has played - and will continue to play - a leading role in attracting high value, high spending visitors to the city and beyond, which are so essential for growth. Belfast City Council is committed to working in partnership with Visit Belfast and the tourism industry to ensure that this happens and that we build back better as we transition out of the current health crisis."
Visit Belfast Chair Statement
Chair of Visit Belfast Kathryn Thomson stated, "The impact of COVID-19 has forced a major rethink and re-imagining of our approach to tourism marketing. Our ambitions for growth and greater impact remain the same, but viewed through a lens of new priorities, we must acknowledge the need for Belfast to build back better, and tourism has a vital role to play in that.
"Cities across the globe are faced with many particular and acute challenges in the wake of COVID-19, but they are also home to the biggest tourism assets, which can also make the biggest impact on economic recovery. An established global tourism brand, Belfast is already at the table.
"Belfast is a resilient city, and while COVID-19 has struck tourism hard, we believe that by focussing on environmental sustainability, inclusive growth and greater industry collaboration and support, together we can drive tourism renewal and recovery which benefits every tourism partner in every community.
"As the region's gateway for tourism, and a shop window for further investment, Belfast's tourism recovery is pivotal not just for the city but for all of Northern Ireland."
Diageo Northern Ireland Country Director Statement
Also speaking at the virtual event, Diageo Northern Ireland country director James Davies stated, "Our pubs, bars and restaurants are an integral part of the city welcome, our brand identity, culture and stories. They have been a hallmark of our local and global tourism success.
"Hospitality is a key employer that supports thousands of jobs across the city and region, and we want Diageo Northern Ireland's ongoing support to play a key role in helping to build a resilient, safe and sustainable future for the industry here."
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.