Described as a “state-of-the-art tourist hub”, the new £1.82 million visitor centre for Belfast has opened in Donegall Square North.
The refurbished ground floor office is now situated in the former Northern Bank building adjacent to the City Hall, a short distance from the old Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau in Donegall Place.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster officially opened the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre she described as “the first point of call for hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city”.
Speaking at the ceremony yesterday, she said: “It was important that we invested in the hands-on customer service element of the visitor experience of Belfast and the support that has been provided reflects the importance we place on ensuring that visitors to our city get the best possible information for a great experience.”
The new facility features the latest tourism technologies – designed to provide an innovative one-stop ‘visitor magnet’ for Belfast and Northern Ireland. Multimedia information screens and self-service kiosks allow tourists to book tickets, view maps and browse event and entertainment options.
The minister added: “This new centre brings the visitor experience right up to date. Information is being supplied in an efficient, appropriate and interesting manner.
“Not only does it provide an engaging and innovative visitor experience, it also provides a signposting service for the rest of Northern Ireland.
“This will encourage visitors to stay longer and discover more of not just the city but the attractions that lie beyond.”
A range of unique ‘made in Belfast’ products will be on sale at the centre – which has been part financed through the European Regional Development Fund – and will provide business opportunities for local producers.
Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir said: “Tourism in the city has come a long way since the first Welcome Centre opened 14 years ago.”
He added: “This world-class, 21st century facility truly reflects the vibrant, contemporary, must-see destination Belfast has become.”
Former Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson said the new centre was a “further demonstration of how council is working together with partners from all sectors to strengthen Belfast’s economic infrastructure”.
He said a total of 12 investment projects were now completed, nine under way, and a further 27 in the pipeline.
“We set out to work with others in delivering projects that market Belfast internationally and make our city a great place to live, work, visit and invest, and today is a great example of how our work is coming to fruition,” Mr Robinson added.