Push to reopen tourism with worldwide travel agents meeting NI businesses

John McGrillen, Tourism NI’s Chief Executive and Ciaran Doherty, Stakeholder Liaison Manager at Tourism Ireland outside the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co. Down

Tourism NI has teamed up with Tourism Ireland to host the biggest ever Meet the Buyer event with overseas operators from sixteen global markets participating across three days of appointments. Taking place from 20th to 22nd April, the flagship business to business networking event will be held virtually for the second time and will provide a unique platform for 186 local tourism businesses to engage with qualified international buyers. 157 international and Republic of Ireland buyers have been recruited by the two organisations, and with over 3500 sales appointments booked in advance the event will allow industry representatives to generate valuable business connections and showcase what’s available in Northern Ireland for future programmes and itineraries. Speaking about the event, John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive said there is still huge interest in Northern Ireland as a destination in 2022. "It is absolutely crucial that we build on the momentum created by a decade of investment and growth in our tourism industry.

"As the sector begins to reopen we are ready to welcome our visitors back and are conscious of the many jobs and livelihoods that are now dependent on the tourism industry.

"We cannot afford to fall behind the competition.” “Attendance levels this year are up again making 2021 the biggest event to date and demonstrates the demand from our island of Ireland and international markets.

Northern Ireland continues to be recognised as a compelling destination and our industry will be securing much needed business in the days ahead as we prepare to reopen.

John McGrillen

“I am heartened by the support of the buyers and of our industry, and by the fact that we attract new buyers every year, as well as those who wish to expand their itineraries in Northern Ireland.

"There is a real determination in the travel and tourism sector to recover, rebound and sell Northern Ireland to the world.” Welcoming the strong international interest in this year’s virtual Meet the Buyer workshop, Ciaran Doherty, Tourism Ireland's Stakeholder Liaison Manager – Northern Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland was delighted to recruit top international tourism buyers – including 12 new buyers for 2021 – to take part in this year’s virtual Meet the Buyer, which provides such an important opportunity for our Northern Ireland tourism partners.

Our message for these international tourism buyers is that, when the time is right, we will have everything ready to welcome overseas visitors back to our shores and deliver a fantastic holiday experience for their clients.

Ciaran Doherty

"Northern Ireland can, and is, competing with the best destinations in the world during these difficult times for the travel and tourism industry everywhere," Ciaran added.