Scandanavian travel sector descends on Northern Ireland

Scandinavian travel writers ready for a ride around Blessingbourne Mountain Bike trail, as it was confirmed that the Dutch travel industry will hold its annual conference in Belfast later this year
Scandinavian travel writers ready for a ride around Blessingbourne Mountain Bike trail, as it was confirmed that the Dutch travel industry will hold its annual conference in Belfast later this year

Around 100,000 Scandinavians are to learn more of what Northern Ireland has to offer tourists following the visit of travel journalists from Sweden and Denmark this week.

The writers, representing various print and online publications, have been exploring the province as guests of Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI.

The group’s itinerary included mountain-biking at Blessingbourne Country Estate, caving at the Marble Arch Caves and a guided walking tour of The Gobbins at Islandmagee. They also enjoyed an immersive Games of Thrones tour, with visits to Castle Ward and Tollymore Forest.

“Tourism Ireland was delighted to invite these influential travel writers to visit Northern Ireland,” said Aileen Hickey, Tourism Ireland’s manager for the Nordic region.

“Fact-finding visits like this are a really effective way for us to get positive exposure for Northern Ireland through the media in the Nordic countries.

The visit comes as it was confirmed that several hundred Dutch travel agents are to converge on Belfast later in the year.

The annual congress of the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR) will take place in Belfast, in November.

After a meeting in Amsterdam in March, representatives of Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam and ANVR came to Belfast last month to meet with the Tourism NI team.

The congress is ANVR’s annual event and will take place over four days, from November 21 to 24. Around 220 Dutch travel professionals – including travel agents, tour operators and group organisers, as well as travel journalists – are expected to participate.

As well as generating valuable off-season business, giving the local economy a significant boost during a traditionally quieter time, the annual congress helps boost Dutch visitor numbers to the host destination. Delegates will take part in pre- and post-congress tours – sampling Northern Ireland’s hospitality, visitor attractions and experiences.

There is good access between the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, with both KLM and easyJet operating direct flights from Amsterdam to Belfast.

“It is a tremendous honour for Belfast to have won this prestigious event in the face of competition from other destinations,” said Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland director of markets.

“Tourism Ireland is delighted to have played its part in securing this event, which confirms Belfast as a world-class business and conference destination. It’s a unique opportunity to show these influential travel agents and tour operators what’s on offer here and will help to increase the number of Dutch holidaymakers to Northern Ireland in 2020 and beyond.”

Tourism NI CEO John McGrillen said: “We are not only delighted that the Association has chosen Belfast as the host of its annual congress, boosting conference business to the city, but also that they will be experiencing what makes Northern Ireland a stand out destination for international leisure visitors.”