Figures from 2019 show that tourism contributes £2.7m each day to the Northern Ireland economy, making tourism a key driver of economic growth.
As a major exporter and employer, Diageo is synonymous with the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland with world class brands, including Guinness, Harp, Baileys and Smithwick’s being enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.
Paddy McKenna, commercial manager for Diageo, said: “Northern Ireland has been transformed over the last decade with its superb scenery, sporting credentials and variety of pubs and restaurants all giving visitors a reason to spend more time here.
“As committed champions of the industry it is important to celebrate all those that continue to shine the spotlight on Northern Ireland as a special place to visit and we are delighted to once again be title sponsor of this year’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards. There are a wealth of individuals, businesses and initiatives working to continue to keep Northern Ireland on the tourism map and in doing so they have demonstrated how vital the sector is, and will continue to be, to the success of the local economy.
“In order to strengthen this success, we will continue to work to support the hospitality and tourism sector throughout 2020, further investing in our brands, our customers and through strategic partnerships. This year will see an even greater focus on recruiting new consumers and visitors to our brands and into new occasions.
The Guinness brand’s title sponsorship of the Six Nations is an incredible opportunity to really enhance the player and fan experience. Working with our customers we want to ensure that the pub is seen as an extension of the stadium by making the consumer experience bigger and bolder.
“Locally, the Guinness brand continues to sponsor the International Guinness Blues on the Bay festival in Warrenpoint which attracts globally acclaimed musicians and tourists to our shores and into our hotels, bars and restaurants. Hop House 13 is a sponsor of the acclaimed Belfast City Blues Festival which takes place in June and offers 60 free live gigs across the city.”
Diageo also continues to work closely with Visit Belfast by committing financial support to their work in marketing Belfast as a world class destination to both domestic and overseas visitors.
“Food and drink are an increasingly important part of the tourism offering here and we work closely with Visit Belfast to help enhance the overall experience for visitors, whether it’s offering food and drink pairings in local bars or ‘Taste of Belfast’ pub guides in the Welcome Centre.”
With the return of the Assembly and Executive at Stormont, Paddy believes there is a real opportunity to address the issues affecting the tourism and hospitality sectors here in 2020.
“The potential is there to review and modernize the current licensing laws which would be good for our customers and would help us to engage on a more equal footing with other places in Europe. I truly believe that Northern Ireland is not only a vibrant place to visit, but is a great place to live, work, study and invest in. With the right level of investment and governance we can all play our part and work together to continue to make Northern Ireland the best destination to visit.”