NI Tourist Board to be rebranded
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is to be rebranded as part of a major overhaul, it has been announced.
Tourism minister Arlene Foster said she hoped the new name - Tourism Northern Ireland - a change of leadership and a refocused future strategy would make the body fit for purpose and help deliver a £1 billion industry by 2020.
She told the Assembly: "Given the importance of tourism to the local economy, my priority is to ensure that we have the right structures in place to maximise the benefits this crucial sector can bring right across Northern Ireland."
NITB, which employs 160 people and has an annual budget of £24.4 million, is primarily responsible for the development of tourism and the marketing of Northern Ireland as a destination for domestic visitors.
Mrs Foster added: "Northern Ireland has seen significant growth in visitor numbers and, more importantly, in tourism revenue over the last five years. Our challenge is to maintain and build on that momentum."
The revamp of NITB follows the Hunter Review which made 33 recommendations for change including the establishment of a new tourism growth fund in conjunction with local authorities.
Adverts for a new chairman and chief executive have been published.
Mrs Foster said: "By implementing the review recommendations, Tourism Northern Ireland will have a much greater presence at local level, developing strong relationships and increasing its knowledge of the needs of local tourism partners.
"This is particularly important given the imminent changes in local government with increased powers for the new councils and their responsibility for community planning, including local economic development.
"Collaborative working with the new councils and the establishment of strong partnerships must be a priority for Tourism Northern Ireland in order to maximise the tourism potential of each of the nine key tourism destinations across Northern Ireland."
Also among the recommendations in the Hunter Review is closer co-operation with Invest Northern Ireland.
This could include the cost-saving sharing of office space, the minister said.
NITB was set up in 1948 as a statutory, non-departmental public body to encourage tourism, encourage the provision and improvement of tourist accommodation and tourist amenities, and advise the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.