Foster launches new drive to increase overseas visitors in 2013

Londonderry’s reign as the UK’s City of Culture will be a key feature in plans to sell Northern Ireland to the overseas market in 2013, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster announced, today.

Foster launches Tourism Ireland's plans to increase overseas visitors in 2013.

Launching Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans for next year, Arlene Foster said 2013 would provide many opportunities to build on the foundations of the increased awareness created by the ni2012 campaign.

The Minister said: “A major programme of promotional activity is being planned around Londonderry as the UK City of Culture, and this will allow Tourism Ireland to put the city, and Northern Ireland, on the map in a completely new way.

“Tourism Ireland aims to attract more visitors from overseas with a focus on the City of Culture events, the World Police and Fire Games and the worldwide publicity that will undoubtedly be generated by the recent announcement that the G8 summit is to be held in Fermanagh.

“Despite what recent provisional figures may have said, we have much to be optimistic about. Titanic Belfast smashed its visitor targets, with 615,000 people passing through the doors to date. Visitors came from 111 countries, with a ratio of 64% out of state. A Belfast Visitor and Convention survey showed a 14.1% rise in visitors coming to the city, with a 21.7% increase in people coming to the city from the Republic of Ireland. The new Giants’ Causeway visitor centre has already welcomed over 300,000 visitors from 130 countries since its opening in July.

“The Irish Open was the first European Tour event to sell out and Northern Ireland will once again be promoted as one of the world’s top golfing destinations in 2013. Our Major winning golfers continue to be excellent ambassadors on the international stage, with World No.1 Rory McIlroy winning the Race to Dubai and Graeme McDowell taking the World Challenge trophy at the weekend.”

Welcoming Tourism Ireland’s new strategy to grow the GB market, Arlene Foster said: “The current economic situation means fresh thinking is required if we are to tempt GB visitors to come to Northern Ireland. In its new strategy ‘GB Path To Growth’, Tourism Ireland will target specific market segments from the young, urban adventurer to the over 45s who want to explore the landscapes, history and culture we have on offer.”

Other key markets targeted by Tourism Ireland in 2013 will include the United States and mainland Europe, as well as Australia and other emerging markets.

Arlene Foster said: “The theme for 2013 is Global Connections for Tourism Growth, and it is important that we leave no stone unturned in the drive to let the world know what makes Northern Ireland such a special place to visit.”

Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, said: “Next year is about delivering growth in the continuing difficult climate. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery in our key source markets, we believe that 2013 will see an increase in visitor numbers. In particular the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations will provide fresh and compelling reasons for people across the world to visit. The G8 summit also presents an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Fermanagh and Northern Ireland – not only to world leaders but to the international media. We plan to build on new levels of awareness arising from ni2012 and will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that Northern Ireland increases its share of the global travel business. And we will continue to work closely with our tourism partners, both at home and overseas, to achieve our common objectives and help drive economic regeneration.”

What’s On for Families this Weekend!

Jacqueline from shares her pick of festive family events taking place this weekend across the North from Panto to Santa and Christmas markets!


The opening gala night of Jack and the Beanstalk in support of the Doghouse Sanctuary is this Saturday 8th December.   Starring local celebrity and comedienne Victoria E Armstrong as Baron Bigwig, Nadia McConviile at Jack, Jonny Conaghan as Dame Trott, Philip Patton as Simon and Niamh McManus as Jill.  Music to get you singing along! Comedy and old fashioned romance! Dancing from the new dance troupe! Custard pies, a singing cow and a GIANT of a giant.  All will be revealed this December in E2A’s Panto Tickets only £5.00 each, making this the best value in town.


Ava Antiques, Vintage and Art Fair returns to the Glenavon House Hotel Cookstown this Sunday 9th December in time for all your Christmas shopping.   If it is shopping with a difference you are looking for then look no further.   The exhibition space is transformed into a cave of hidden treasures waiting to be found by avid antique market goers looking for a bargain or two.


Visit Castle Coole with the children this December and enjoy the festivities.  Castle Coole will be home to Santa and Mrs Claus from 8-18th December as they busily prepare for Christmas. They will be welcoming children into their magical Christmas home – the perfect way to get into the festive spirit.  Travel from Enniskillen to the North Pole through the magical basement tunnel, meet Mrs Claus and see the elves’ playroom, enjoy a story and a chat with Santa and receive a special gift.  Booking is essential – entry is by half hour sessions.


Santa’s elves have been busy creating a magical Christmas Wonderland at The Jungle Moneymore every Saturday and Sunday until 22nd December.  On-Target Taster Jungle activities, elf-tastic arts and crafts, festive face-painting,  woodland petting farm, cracking Christmas food and drink and locally sourced gifts and produce  are all part of the experience.  Of course, no Christmas Wonderland is complete without  Santa who will be at The Jungle to meet and greet your little ones, present them with a fabulous gift and pose for the photograph that happy family memories are made of!


Journey back 2000 years at the Armagh Planetarium to Bethlehem, and seek to discover a scientific explanation for the star the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus in “Mystery of the Christmas Star”. The star of Bethlehem is an iconic astronomical event whose true origin remains unknown even today, in spite of years of speculation and investigation. The show will guide the viewer through some of these investigations and the most likely causes of this interesting cosmological object which was remarkable enough to make the wise men travel across the desert from Babylon to Bethlehem to see the newborn baby King. We will also explore possible dates for the birth of Christ and look at the historical records of significant astronomical events which occurred at this time. This modern retelling of the Christmas story in our digital theatre will charm and captivate audiences of all ages.


Soak up the atmosphere at The Lisburn Christmas Market 6th to 8th December, this year situated at the handy and central Graham Gardens. Now an established festive favourite in Lisburn, the market is host to a wide range of traditional, handcrafted and unique products, speciality hot foods and coffee shop. With outdoor stalls, an indoor market in the Kingdom Life Centre and featuring this year for the first time, the Chill Out Tepee, the Market will also feature daily workshops, demonstrations and lunchtime acoustic music in this new Chill Out Zone. On Thursday and Friday a crèche will be on offer for pre-school age kids in the mornings and primary school kids in the afternoon and there’ll be lots of activities for the kids all day Saturday 8th.