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Newry, Mourne and Down District Council held its annual Mountains, Myths and Maritime tourism industry day this week at Killeavy Castle Estate.

The event on Wednesday 26 June provided an opportunity for the local tourism industry to learn about opportunities to enhance their business and gave the industry representatives a forum for networking and collaboration.

Marie Ward, Director, Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI and Liam Hannaway, CEO, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council at the Killeavy Tourism event. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Marie Ward, Director, Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI and Liam Hannaway, CEO, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council at the Killeavy Tourism event. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey, welcomed invited speakers, key agencies, and the wider tourism industry to the recently opened Killeavy Castle estate at the foot of Slieve Gullion.

Councillor Casey said, “Tourism is a key priority for our corporate plan, with an emphasis on redefining our visitor destination experiences associated with the landscapes, stories and our people.

Pictured at the annual Mountains, Myths and Maritime tourism industry day at Killeavy Castle Estate are, from left: Nuala Devlin Saul, Brack Tours; Andrew Patterson, Assistant Director, Tourism, Culture and Events, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Nick Powe, Kents Cavern; Carolyn Boyd, Tourism NI; Sinead Murray, Tourism Ireland; Mags Byrne, Mags Byrne Marketing; Councillor Charlie Casey, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Denise Murphy, Full Circle Management Solutions; John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI; Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Marie Ward, Director, Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Michelle Shirlow, Food NI. Photograph: Philip Magowan
Pictured at the annual Mountains, Myths and Maritime tourism industry day at Killeavy Castle Estate are, from left: Nuala Devlin Saul, Brack Tours; Andrew Patterson, Assistant Director, Tourism, Culture and Events, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Nick Powe, Kents Cavern; Carolyn Boyd, Tourism NI; Sinead Murray, Tourism Ireland; Mags Byrne, Mags Byrne Marketing; Councillor Charlie Casey, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Denise Murphy, Full Circle Management Solutions; John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI; Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Marie Ward, Director, Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Michelle Shirlow, Food NI. Photograph: Philip Magowan

“Ultimately, we intend to position the Newry, Mourne and Down area as one of the premier year-round destinations in Ireland. The success of this initiative is based on our firm belief that tourism is important to every business and that only close collaboration will ensure the long-term growth of the tourism economy. Tourism is one of our most critical industries; spending from overnight trips has risen by 47% in 2017 to £90m—clear evidence of the impact that this thriving industry has.

“Since launching our Tourism Strategy in 2017, we have worked with local businesses and partners in local government to create exciting and memorable visitor experiences under the Mountains, Myths and Maritime theme. It’s been tremendous to see businesses embracing these ideas and helping visitors to immerse themselves in the landscapes, stories and people of this beautiful region. Some of the most notable ones that have been developed so far include Oysters and Chocolate, Trails and Ales, Catch and Cook and Feeding your Senses—all of which shows just how much this destination has to offer.”

Charlie Casey, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council  speaking at the Mountains, Myths and Maritime tourism industry day in Killeavy Castle. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Charlie Casey, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council speaking at the Mountains, Myths and Maritime tourism industry day in Killeavy Castle. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

The industry day gave local businesses an opportunity to hear from the Chief Executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen, on the Northern Ireland’s emerging experience brand. He spoke about the way that businesses can work collaboratively to deliver compelling experiences that will attract and delight visitors, bringing benefits to both businesses and the local area alike.

Local tourism businesses also heard the latest on a new all-Ireland food and drink programme entitled ‘Taste the Island’. This initiative promotes food and drink tourism across Ireland and will include visits to food producers, distillers and brewers; food trails and food festivals, experiences in foraging, fishing and more during the months September through November.

Over the course of the day speakers provided advice on opportunities for local businesses to prepare their business for independent travellers and tour operators, how to target domestic and overseas markets, including the benefits of UNESCO Geopark status as a tourism selling point. The businesses also discussed ways of making the most of digital technologies and opportunities for training and mentoring.

If you would like further information on ‘Taste the Ireland’ and tourism industry initiatives contact Newry Visitor Information Centre.

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