Brexit and embracing our new found status as the Poland of the British Isles…

I got a query this morning from a reader in Dublin who plans to come up for our End of Year Review event. They wanted to know what time the event ended so they could book the bus back home. I suggested a better idea, stay over and make a night of it. The new Premier Inn Hotel is less than a one minute walk to the venue and is only a bonkersly cheap £35 a night! Since Brexit the … Read more

Belfast through the eyes of an outsider looks like a really cool place…

Yesterday I was at the Power of Video Conference held at the shiny new Waterfront extension. As you may have guessed from the title, it was all about using video online. Video can be enormously popular online. The video below was put on our Facebook page a few months ago and so far over a million people have watched it. Bonkers.   For those of us over a certain age the whole Youtube stars thing has probably passed us by. In … Read more

Bond is back! (Northern Irish storyline still awaited…)

He’s back, to save the world once again. Daniel Craig today returns to the big screen as MI6’s best-known fictional intelligence officer, amid another colossal media fanfare. Today the latest instalment in the Eon franchise (there have now been 24 movies from the Broccoli/Wilson stable), “Spectre”, hits our cinemas, and another huge box-office hit is all but certain. For how much longer, though, can James Bond go on? Ian Fleming introduced his best-known creation in his debut novel “Casino Royale”, … Read more

NI Tourism Minister: “I recently had discussions with the chief executive of Tourism Ireland and expressed my disappointment about how the promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way stops at the border.”

Without wishing to undermine historian Hiram Morgan’s call for Irish Government action to preserve the cultural heritage in the seas off the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s worth noting the stated objective of that tourism initiative… The overall aim of the project is to develop a route that will achieve greater visibility for the west coast of Ireland in overseas tourist markets. Also worth pointing out that one of the armada wrecks he mentioned, La Girona, isn’t on the Wild Atlantic Way, having … Read more

Kit Harington on Belfast: “It’s wonderful for two or three days…”

As I said of similar comments by HBO’s Michael Lombardo last year, With so much of some Northern Ireland Executive ministers‘ time and effort [and other people’s money! – Ed] focused on exploiting the international success of HBO’s Game of Thrones to promote Northern Ireland overseas, it’s perhaps unfortunate, but refreshing, that HBO’s director of programming, Michael Lombardo, has given an honest answer to a straight question… This time, it’s one of the leading actors from HBO’s Game of Thrones, Kit Harington, telling … Read more

New York Times: 36 hours in Belfast

The New York Times have created a rather snazzy travel video of Belfast. It makes Belfast look REALLY good. I would want to visit and I live in Belfast. I know we complain a lot, and God knows we have a lot to complain about. But sometimes it takes outsiders to show us what we have. The video is currently the second most popular on the New York Times website. The branding value of such a video is worth hundreds of thousands … Read more

Tourism figures for 2013 bring us down to earth

The figures for tourism to Northern Ireland in 2013 out last week show a more modest reality than the hype suggesting it’s just about the most visited place on the planet. The numbers visiting from overseas amounted to just 9,000.  Home holidays and short trips and family visits accounted for most of the rest. It’s not a terrible record, much as you’d expect in fact, but it shows yet again the limitations of marketing hype. You have to remember that this … Read more

Giro d’Italia 2014: “It’s a lot more than a cycling race”

When the BBC leaked the proposed route of the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia 2014 last week it was greeted by ritual wailing and gnashing of teeth by various representatives of the ‘excluded’ west Belfast. And with the whingeing out of the way, the official announcement was able to be welcomed with more decorum by the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers, as well as the Tourism Minister and the Minister for Regional Development.  [And the NI Minister with responsibility … Read more

The Sad State of North Belfast’s Riverside

A bright, cold, day earlier this week saw me head out for a constitutional along what is now rather a pleasant route along the banks of the Lagan past the Odyssey and up to the Titanic Museum. With the hazy afternoon sun making the East Belfast bank of the river look particularly pretty, and the tourist information signs informing me of the Belfast Maritime Trail, I changed my mind and instead turned left at the Lagan Weir and decided to … Read more

And at Belfast City Airport: “Joy to the world…”

I’m more of an Aldergrove man myself these days, but this is just, well, nice… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Expect an influx of social energisers and culturally curious tourists in 2013 … as well as the G8 leaders

Slugger readers in Great Britain who fall into the marketing segments of “social energisers” and “culturally curious” should expect to see adverts tempting them across the shuck Irish Sea in 2013 to “explore the landscapes, history and culture we have on offer”. social energisers = 18-34, no kids; heavy social networkers; often living in London, Glasgow and Manchester; wanting urban holidays with friends; looking for daytime activities. culturally curious = 45+, living with partner/married; use social media but not heavy … Read more

For what is Northern Ireland going to be known in 2013?

Our Time Our Place logo

As NI2012 Our Place Our Time comes to a halt, does Northern Ireland Tourist Board have a fight on its hands to maintain this year’s impetus? Competition comes from Tourism Ireland’s The Gathering (which Tourism Minister Arlene Foster made no mention of in her party conference speech at the weekend) not to mention VisitScotland’s three month Winter Festivals promotion. On top of a series of high profile events, The Gathering’s website has a call to action, encouraging Irish families and … Read more

#Creationism to be included in the [#GiantsCauseway] exhibition, as a grant condition.

The British Humanist Association is reporting that an FOI request by Andew Muir of the Alliance Party suggests that the origin of the creationist content in the National Trusts’ Giant’s Causeway exhibit can be traced back to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: … an email uncovered by the Alliance Party, from a civil servant within DETI and dated 9 November 2009, states that ‘I’ve amended draft to take on board NITB [Northern Ireland Tourist Board] comment re National Trust unwillingness … Read more

“I think that Northern Ireland needs great cultural events for an international audience”

The Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival makes the pages of the New York Times.  From the New York Times article The Happy Days festival has a budget of £300,000 (about $474,400), of which the greatest part comes from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, with smaller contributions from London 2012 and the local Enniskillen council. “On the one hand, it’s a very tight budget for the diversity and scale of the program,” Mr. … Read more

Oh les beaux jours!

As the Irish Times notes, the inaugural five-day Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival is under way.  Launched yesterday by the Northern Ireland Tourism Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, as part of the NI2012 “Our time, our place” programme.   Funded by the NI Tourist Board,  Arts Council of NI National Lottery funds, the London 2012 Olympic Festival, and Fermanagh District Council, it’s promising to be “the world’s first annual festival to celebrate the work and influence of Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel … Read more

We’re looking for questions for Friday’s #DigitalLunch panel, now!!

A quick heads up on Friday’s #DigitalLunch session on Google Plus… This week we ask how digital is affecting tourism? And not just at home, but globally. To that end we hope to have guests from as far apart as a Caracas and east Africa, encompassing industry practitioners and travel writers. In contrast to previous editions this week we can give you the URL where you will be able to watch the broadcast live, but also where (but you will … Read more

“Mr Varadkar said Ireland and Britain could become a ‘mini-Schengen'”

The Irish Times reports some odd comments by the Irish Government Tourism and Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, at a meeting of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly at Leinster House in Dublin.  Odd, that is, given what we already know.  From the Irish Times report Mr Varadkar said tourists and business visitors should not be forced to source one set of travel papers for the UK and a second set for th Republic. “This means that there are real opportunities to … Read more

Snap, Craickle and Pop: The Controversy of Popular Gaelicisation

Ever since Ireland was told that the black stuff might not be Irish, but rather a porter stout from Covent Garden, the country has descended into a frantic state of uncertain soul-searching and impassioned reflection to clarify once and for all what is actually ‘Irish’ (potatoes, Gaelic Storm, and Saint Patrick aside).   But now the most quintessentially ‘Irish’ institution of them all is under intense academic scrutiny, the much celebrated notion of ‘the craic’ (and that’s before considering the … Read more

“At present persons granted an Irish visa are not permitted to use that visa to travel to the UK.”

Not that we didn’t already know that…  However, the Northern Ireland Tourism Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, fielded a number of NI Assembly questions back in Feb/March on the issue of the Irish Government’s “Visa Waiver Scheme for nationals of 16 countries who hold a valid visa for entry into the United Kingdom.” Here is one of her answers I discussed this issue with Hugo Swire, NIO Minister of State last month. The Republic of Ireland, ROI, introduced a visa … Read more