More than 180 tourism buyers from across 22 markets have arrived in Northern Ireland today for the 2019 Tourism NI Meet the Buyer event.
This year’s event represents the biggest to date with 153 local tourism businesses taking part in over 5,000 pre-scheduled one-to-one appointments.
As part of the opening event, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and international tour operators from markets as far away as China and New Zealand were treated to an exclusive preview of the newly refurbished Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.
Organised by Tourism NI in association with Tourism Ireland the annual event is the highlight of the tourism calendar and consists of a two-day agenda packed full of one-to-one appointments and networking with local tourism businesses, as well as opportunities to experience some of Northern Ireland’s leading visitor attractions.
Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen said: “2019 is another record-breaking year for Meet the Buyer, with tour operators from across 22 markets attending and 232 Northern Ireland industry representatives from 153 businesses expecting to secure sales.
“Feedback from our tourism industry continues to highlight the high quality of buyers and excellent opportunities that Meet the Buyer represents, with many seeing an increase in business as a direct result of appointments during the event.
“Northern Ireland continues to be recognised as a compelling destination. We were recently voted Best Food Destination and soon will welcome The 148th Open to Royal Portrush. We also welcome today’s important confirmation of the first tourism legacy project - the Game of Thrones Studio Experience at Linen Mills Studios in Banbridge - which will open its doors next spring and will further boost our offering to international visitors.”
Welcoming the strong international attendance at this year’s Meet the Buyer workshop, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to bring a record number of top overseas tourism buyers to Northern Ireland for Meet the Buyer 2019 – including 39 buyers who are here for the first time – which provides such an important opportunity for our local tourism partners. The high attendance of these buyers from around the world is a strong indication that interest in visiting Northern Ireland remains high and that it can, and is, competing with the best destinations in the world.
“Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of promotions under way this year. We are taking every opportunity to leverage the exciting events happening over the coming months – including The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. And, later this month, we will unveil our new campaign around the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. Our message to the visiting tourism buyers is that there has never been a better time to visit Northern Ireland.”
During their visit, participating buyers will be briefed on the latest visitor attractions and experiences available in Northern Ireland and will be offered the opportunity to participate in one of six familiarisation trips over the weekend hosted by Tourism NI which will showcase iconic visitor experiences across the region including Game of Thrones territory, the Causeway Coastal Route and the Fermanagh Lakelands.