Tourism’s challenge is to stay on the global stage

John McGrillen Tourism NI Chief Executive, tells agendaNi that the tourism industry must do everything possible to keep the Northern Ireland brand on the global stage.

It is not easy to predict how tourism will look five years from now given the current political volatility across the globe, economic uncertainty and the speed of technological change. Despite this, there is no doubt the industry has become and shall remain a vital component within the Northern Ireland economy, playing a critical role in creating employment opportunities for our young people, sustaining local communities, building civic pride and creating a positive image of NI across the globe.

Whilst tourism has come a very long way over the last decade or so it is still developing as a business sector with great potential for future growth. Within the last three or four years in particular, major investments like Titanic Belfast and big events have secured global attention and helped enormously in changing perceptions about Northern Ireland in the international marketplace.

The big challenge in the coming years is to ensure that our tourism industry continues to stay in the global spotlight and fulfil the full potential of Northern Ireland’s unique brand.

This country has lots of unique stories to celebrate, world-class attractions, beautiful scenery, living history and interesting characters and experiences. It is a place of authentic people who will go the extra mile for visitors.


By playing to these strengths and unifying the drive to make the most of our USPs we must continue to present a compelling proposition to the market.

The restructuring of Tourism NI and wider tourism arrangements recommended in the Hunter Review is designed to provide greater efficiencies, create better synergies and allow Tourism NI to become more responsive to the needs of the industry. As part of this, for example, greater cooperation between Tourism NI and Invest NI will help to promote Northern Ireland internationally as a single economic brand.


As an industry, tourism will always be reliant on partnership between the public and private sectors. To continue its success story, more collaboration across both government and the industry itself, will be critical. In the next few years everyone in tourism will need to be on their ‘A’ game to ensure we keep improving, innovating and growing if we are to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive marketplace.


If Northern Ireland is to deliver its full potential it is important that the NI Executive recognises the importance of tourism as an engine for economic growth and creates a policy framework which supports growth in visitor numbers, visitor spend and ultimately the creation of jobs across the whole of Northern Ireland.

I am delighted that along with DETI we will very soon be commencing the process of creating a new tourism strategy for Northern Ireland which will involve everyone in the industry and provide a new vision and sense of purpose for everyone within the tourism sector.


Currently tourism is in a good place. Northern Ireland has in recent years developed a very strong product delivering large scale global events which have allowed us to present ourselves to the world and compete on a global stage. The challenge now is to work collectively to maximise the return on that investment.

Five years from now, I want to look back and see a tourism industry in Northern Ireland that works together, is innovative, confident and is truly global in its outlook. If we can achieve that then we will have delivered the potential of the Northern Ireland brand.


Tourism NI

St Annes Court, 59 North Street

Belfast, BT1 1NB

Tel: 028 9023 1221

Twitter: @NITouristBoard




Related Posts