All Ireland: Q&A with Northern Ireland Tourist Board official

David Boyce, director, USA, of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board discusses the impact of recent developments on tourism to Northern Ireland with contributing editor Marilee Crocker.

TW: What are the implications for tourism of last year's political settlement in Northern Ireland?

Boyce: Now we have all the politicians from all communities in Ireland, North and south, talking about how to make Northern Ireland a more attractive destination for investment, including in tourism. Once we have a stable environment in political terms, I think everything is driven forward. As you know, the top attraction in all of Ireland - Giant's Causeway - happens to be in Northern Ireland. Two of the top 10 golf courses in the world are there. A new Hilton opened in Belfast in September. Boutique hoteliers from Dublin are opening hotels in Belfast. All those elements point to a very positive tourism future for Ireland and particularly the North.

TW: In the past few years you've undertaken joint marketing with the Irish Tourist Board. Why is that appropriate and can you comment on its success?

Boyce: There's no doubt that the overseas tourism marketing initiative that we do jointly with the Irish Tourist Board, which is a $4 million advertising campaign, certainly has had an effect on tourism to Ireland as a whole and particularly to Northern Ireland.

TW: What special interest market niches are you emphasizing?

Boyce: We've just launched new brochures on cycling and on horseback riding. Because of the fact that Northern Ireland is unspoiled, we have an awful lot of areas yet to be explored by cyclists. We have itineraries that have been set, and ground operators in place. With horseback riding, we have some of the best treks in all of Ireland. Ireland as a whole is one of the best destinations for that. In the cultural market, we just completed a fam trip for people who do alumni and museum groups. We wanted them to see our houses and gardens and museums. We're confident of getting a couple of groups booked for '99.

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