Walk around the center of Belfast and you will see banners hanging from lamp posts all promoting Belfast tourism. In London last Wednesday night at St James’s Palace, there was a big bash to launch on the mainland the tourism campaign for this year. Called “Your Time Our Place,” the event’s host, Eamonn Holmes even tweeted afterward that we should come and visit “our wee country.”
The Titanic centenary is the centerpiece of the celebrations and with the new museum opening on March 31st, the tourist people are making the most of it. Even the province’s lifestyle and entertainment awards are christened, “The Titanic Go Awards” and MTV is having a “music event” on the Titanic Slipways.
But other things are being promoted as well. It’s just that they seem to get dwarfed by the big one. For example, there is a four day festival at the beginning of July to welcome back the yachts participating in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race which ends in Belfast. Many concerts on the mainland have been postponed this year (like Glastonbury) so the Peace One Day Concert in Londonderry on June 21st could attract a lot of people from the other home countries. And there’s golf. It hasn’t passed many commentators that there are two Northern Irish golfers who won majors in 2011 so the tourist people will be hoping that visitors from around the world will come and see what courses turned these two into champions.
Most visitors come from the rest of the UK and the Irish Republic. But with transatlantic connections and a reduced APD for those flights, there could be an upsurge from North America as well. But the concentration will be in the UK. The adverts are already running. Are you persuaded to visit Northern Ireland this year?