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Northern Ireland's Giro D'Italia promotion drive wins sporting tourism gong

Tourism Northern Ireland's promotion of the 2014 Giro d'Italia 'Grand Depart' from the province has won a major prize.

The Grand Depart defeated competition from Yorkshire's hosting of part of the Tour de France to win the National Sport Tourism Event of the year at the Shannon Group European Sport Tourism Awards. Scotland's Ryder Cup was another finalist.

The 15 finalists were selected from a shortlist of 70 towns, cities, events and venues from Ireland and across Europe.

The awards ceremony is the high point of the 2015 Shannon Airport European Sport Tourism Summit.

Ryder Cup director Richard Hills and Simon Morton of UK Sport were among the experts who addressed the event.

Eddie Rowan, Tourism NI events manager, said: "The clear message from the Giro event, and indeed the success of other sporting events like the Irish Open and the World Police and Fire Games, is that Northern Ireland has the capacity, the will and the passion for sport, so we are delighted to have this validated in winning this award.

"Sport tourism is the fastest growing sector in tourism, growing at a rate of 14% per annum compared to 5% for the wider sector. That's rapid growth."

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