Ten years since its doors were first opened, and servicing almost six million visitor enquiries over the period, Belfast’s Welcome Centre is celebrating a milestone anniversary.
The city’s flagship visitor information office, operated by Visit Belfast, opened to the public and tourists just before Christmas in 2013. Over the past decade, more than 2.3 visitors have crossed the doors of the centre on Donegall Square North, with Visit Belfast travel advisors fielding a total of 5,906,884 queries.
Unveiled following a £1.82 million investment, the facility proves a “one stop shop” to visitors and residents alike with information accompanied by the ability to book events, shows or accommodation, and a gift shop.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy said:
“I am immensely proud of this place and the welcome that we are famous for across the world. Over the past 10 years, the experience for tourists and other visitors coming into Belfast has transformed. The Belfast Welcome Centre, and Visit Belfast, have played a pivotal role in that. Congratulations to them for making this the city of ‘six million welcomes’.
“As we mark this anniversary, we are also looking ahead to the next 12 months which promise to be another momentous year with Belfast 2024 bringing a programme of cultural celebration and the opening of City Quays Gardens, not to mention a host of conferences and cruise visits.”
Over the last decade since the centre was opened in Donegall Square North, it has helped welcome 870 cruise ships to the city, along with 1,652,364 cruise visitors, as well as 203,985 delegates attending 631 conferences.
Meanwhile, the value of tickets sold at the Welcome Centre has surpassed £5.5 million.
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast added:
“It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre first opened on Donegall Square. With each passing year we set the bar higher, with 2023 proving a record year for servicing the highest number of cruise ship calls to Belfast, as we continually aim to improve the city’s offer to tourists.
“Dealing with literally hundreds of thousands of enquiries annually, Visit Belfast staff at the Belfast Welcome Centre act as ambassadors not only for this great city but Northern Ireland as a whole.
“Working with our partners including more than 500 tourism businesses and services, we are proud to act as a catalyst for this gateway city.”
Earlier this year, Visit Belfast Welcome Centre was named ‘Northern Ireland’s Visitor Information Centre of the Year’ at the 30th Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards, an achievement it has celebrated for almost two decades.
Mark Thompson, Visitor Information Manager at Tourism NI, said:
“Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre is a wonderful occasion and a landmark achievement for the visitor information network of Northern Ireland.
“The Welcome Centre plays a vital role within the Northern Ireland tourism industry in guiding and informing visitors about the unique range of tourism experiences available across Northern Ireland, not just within the Belfast area.
“With a high proportion of recent visitors to the Welcome Centre from outside Northern Ireland, it is key in delivering a giant welcome to our out-of-state visitors and enhancing Northern Ireland’s reputation as a destination across the globe”.