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Titanic centenary must be exploited

The Belfast Tourism Forum believes that government and industry must work together more closely to exploit the potential from the Titanic's centenary year in 2012.

"We cannot under-estimate the importance of both central and local government continuing to work in close partnership with all the relevant agencies and our highly professional colleagues in the tourism industry to deliver the goods, to the benefit of everyone in the city," said John McGrillen, Director of Development with Belfast City Council and chairman of the group.

The joint public and private sector body has been set up by Belfast City Council and includes more than 40 of Northern Ireland's most influential tourism professionals. It aims to grow visitor numbers by 40%, to 2.38 million by 2014.

"The centenary of the Titanic, and the London Olympics, will both have an enormous impact on tourism here, and it is vital that we are ready to offer a world-class visitor experience," John McGrillen said.

"The Belfast Tourism Forum is a key body which is fully focused on ensuring that Belfast increases leisure and business visitors and their spending.

"2012 thrusts us onto the global stage and presents the city and Northern Ireland a glorious opportunity," added Mandy Patrick, a representative of the Hotel Federation of Northern Ireland.