Belfast Telegraph

Delegates from top tourist attractions talk tactics at Titanic Belfast

By Margaret Canning

From Harry Potter Studios to St Paul's Cathedral, some of the UK's best-known tourist attractions have been represented at a conference in Titanic Belfast.

More than 60 senior managers from tourist attractions were at the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) council meeting at Titanic Belfast - a venue which itself was named best visitor attraction for groups at the European Group Travel Awards in Berlin.

The Houses of Parliament, Victoria and Albert Museum and Edinburgh Castle were also among the sites represented at Wednesday's event, which was held in Belfast for the first time.

Tim Husbands, chief executive of Titanic Belfast and a board member of Alva, said the choice of Titanic Belfast reinforced its status as "one of the best tourist attractions in the UK".

It also created significant financial benefit for the city, he said. Mr Husbands' appointment to the board marks the first time a Northern Ireland organisation has been represented on it.

He said: "Many of the participants have extended their stay for the bank holiday weekend, which is great news for Belfast and Northern Ireland. It represents how popular Belfast is becoming as a destination of choice for tourists.

"We are very proud of the significant role that we have and will continue to play in putting Belfast on the tourism map."

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell welcomed delegates. He said: "Titanic Belfast is an amazing attraction which Northern Ireland is rightly proud of.

"This is proof that the investment, imagination and energy that went into this attraction keeps paying dividends and it is a success story that keeps on running. Continuously raising the quality and standards of the tourism offer is key to attracting more out-of-state visitors and in growing towards our target of tourism becoming a £1bn industry by 2020."

Titanic Belfast was recently named outstanding visitor experience at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

Titanic Belfast attracts conferences and corporate hospitality events - but the company behind the centre is also mounting a temporary exhibition centre to grab a bigger share of the market. Major shows and expos which have been held at the King's Hall in south Belfast are set in the past to be held at the new centre instead. Now plans for a 6,000 sq m Titanic Exhibition Centre are being prepared in the hope the temporary site at Queen's Road will be ready by the autumn.



The size in square feet of the planned Titanic Exhibition Centre

Belfast Telegraph