Business news


Posted By:
Tourism NI

23rd Mar 2023

More than 150 international tour operators meet local businesses at networking forum

Northern Ireland’s tourism businesses will today get the chance to make their pitch to overseas tourism experts as Tourism Northern Ireland hosts its flagship Meet the Buyer 2023 networking event in the ICC Belfast.

Hosting more than 150 international tour operators from across the globe and bringing them together with 184 representatives from local tourism and hospitality businesses, the event will facilitate over 3,000 meetings and give the industry a chance to showcase local tourism offerings and highlight Northern Ireland as a world-leading visitor destination.

Delivered in partnership with Tourism Ireland, the Meet the Buyer event attracts a wide range of international tour companies from countries including the US, Germany, Australia and the Middle East, and opens up a window of opportunity for local businesses to get one-to-one appointments with a pre-qualified group of overseas buyers.

Participants were welcomed last night to a dinner at Larchfield Estate, and following today’s meetings, they will embark on a series of familiarisation trips across region that will showcase Northern Ireland’s tourism hotspots on the themes of Food and Wellness; Iconic NI; The Tale of Our Cities; Into the West; and Coastal Adventures.

John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism Northern Ireland commented:

“Our flagship Meet the Buyer event is a real opportunity for our local tourism industry to present what our region has offer visitors from around the world and allows international operators to experience the quality of that offer first hand in Northern Ireland. With more than 150 international tour operators attending today it’s clear that interest in the region as a visitor destination remains high.

“With major investment in new experiences such as the Titanic Belfast refurbishment and the imminent opening of the Titanic Distillers visitor attraction we are optimistic for the future. We also have a healthy pipeline of upcoming experiences, such as the new phase of The Gobbins and the Belfast Stories project in the city centre.

“This is an exciting time for the industry and there are big opportunities coming up, including the One Young World conference later this year and the 153rd Open Championship golf tournament in 2025 that will shine a light on NI as a tourism destination.”

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said:

“Tourism Ireland was delighted to bring 135 top international tourism buyers to Northern Ireland for Meet the Buyer 2023 – including 25 buyers who are here for the first time. As we continue to rebuild overseas tourism to Northern Ireland, this event is a really important opportunity for our local tourism industry partners. The participation 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 for 2023. We are taking every opportunity to shine a spotlight on Northern Ireland – including through our new global campaign ‘Fill your heart with Ireland’, which stars actresses Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, from Derry Girls, which is being rolled out in our key tourism markets. The campaign is highlighting our rich and authentic experiences, breath-taking landscapes and, in particular, our warm welcome – encouraging people to put Northern Ireland on their holiday ‘wish-list’ for 2023.”

The event will conclude this evening with a celebration event at Titanic Belfast, following a tour of the newly refurbished galleries.