VOICES FROM BELFAST
A series of interviews with the key players of Belfast’s meetings industry
Q: In your opinion, what makes Belfast special?
With world-class attractions, great visitor accommodation, fantastic shopping, excellent restaurants and brilliant nightlife- It’s all happening in Belfast these days. In 2017 the city won the Rising Star award in the National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards. Lonely Planet named Belfast joint number-one region to visit in 2018 (along with the Causeway Coastal Route), and Condé Nast Traveller magazine has put us in the top 10 must-see UK cities. Then of course there’s Titanic Belfast – a truly world-class visitor experience named after the world’s most famous liner, RMS Titanic, which was built on this very spot. Named best European attraction and world’s leading tourist attraction in 2016, it has already welcomed over three million visitors. From the emerging cultural hub of the Cathedral Quarter to the bourgeoning Titanic Quarter, Belfast is a modern European city that excites, with a non-stop energy and above all, a distinctive spirit. Northern Ireland’s capital is a walkable city less than two hours from Dublin Airport by road, or you can fly into either of the city’s two airports.
Q: Where would you take someone to “feel” the vibe of Belfast and what is your best incentive idea in Belfast?
Belfast is described in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 as “full of hip neighbourhoods that burst with bars, restaurants, and venues to suit all tastes. The rusting old docklands are now the vibrant Titanic Quarter, home to fancy apartments and a sensational museum”.
Now one of Europe’s most exciting cities, from its Michelin-starred restaurants and legendary nightlife to a phenomenal Titanic history. There are a palpable buzz and a fantastic line up of things to see and do – including the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction (2016), Titanic Belfast. In the heart of the city is Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter with all the ingredients for a great night out. There are a palpable buzz and a fantastic line up of things to see and do. It’s not all about modern culture, it’s also steeped in history. The beautiful St Anne’s Cathedral celebrates Belfast’s literary past with quotations from famous local writers carved in the stone underfoot. Named after the cathedral, the oldest part of the city has evolved from Belfast’s old trade and warehousing district to a bustling area with an impressive culture and arts scene. The narrow cobbled streets are a joy to wander around and explore – duck into one of the alleyways near The Duke of York and see the famed piece of wall art illustrating some of Northern Ireland’s famous faces. Belfast now has an impressive selection of 4 and 5 star hotels with 6 new hotels openings in the last year. With an array of restaurants to choose from including two Michelin star restaurants, Northern Ireland was voted World Best Food Destination in 2018.
Q: What do you see as crucial marketing elements to lure meeting planners?
Northern Ireland is made for meeting and is fast becoming a talked about destination for international conferences and business events. We offer compact, walkable cities, state of the art conference facilities, unique venues for gala dinners and immersive delegate experiences that can only be found here. From the Titanic City of Belfast, to the stunning scenery of the Causeway Coastal Route, a vibrant food and drink scene and not to mention 26 Game of Thrones® filming locations, it’s no wonder Lonely Planet awarded us Top Region to visit in 2018. The ICC Belfast the city’s largest conference facility won top prize in the ‘Best Venue’ category at the C&IT awards, beating off tough competition from fellow venues in the UK, Europe and Asia.