The future of tourism in Belfast post 2013

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The future of tourism in Belfast post 2013.AbstractIn recent years Northern Ireland and particularly Belfast has emerged into a forward looking, vibrant tourism destination as depicted by the ‘Your time, Our place’ campaign (Mowat 2012). The city has evolved from an image of dereliction and brown field spaces, created by 30 years of armed conflict and political intransigence, into a rejuvenated, cosmopolitan city akin to many other cities across the U.K., which have undergone a similar journey of urban regeneration, such as Liverpool (Singh 2003) and Glasgow (Wright 2007). In 2012, the new Titanic Centre welcomed its 500,000th visitor (6 months after opening); the Port of Belfast received 75,000 passengers and crew aboard 44 cruise ships; and recently a Tourism Event Programme Fund for 2013/14 was launched by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. This year Belfast will celebrate its 400th Anniversary and will welcome the World Fire and Police Games. These and numerous other initiatives are part of the governments strategic development plan for the region, to increase tourism spend by £1 billion and visitor numbers to 4.5 million by 2020 (Hospitality Ireland 2012).The question is however, how will Belfast join the ranks of Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or London as a premier tourist destination? Does Belfast have the attractions and infrastructure, to attract the ‘ordinary decent’ tourists who visit once, but more importantly, the greater revenue generating - business, sports and entertainment tourists (Wynne-Jones 2008)? Is it possible that the growth in tourism and the revenue it generates can be sustained (Hall 2000)? This study aims to investigate how far Belfast has travelled in terms of building capacity and infrastructure (Devine at al 2011), to sustain a tourism product that will make tourists of all kinds, return. The research is futurist in perspective and qualitative in nature. Exploratory, in-depth, face to face interviews with key stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector in Belfast and Northern Ireland have been analysed by theme. These interviews focused on how Belfast can develop as a key conference (Kincade 2011), sporting (Gelan 2003) and entertainment destination, which can attract large grossing events (Getz 2008), which attract tourists and media for all the right reasons. Key findings suggest that developers may have moved too quickly in Belfast, creating some empty real estate, rather than working with government and related bodies (Devine et al 2012) in the supply of venues and ‘bedroom’ stock, which can accommodate large numbers for showcase sporting, musical and conference events all year round. Belfast has come a long way, it is on a journey of discovery and it is recommended that lessons be learned from the experiences of other cities in transition (Smith 2012).Key Words: Urban regeneration, conference, sporting and entertainment destination, building capacity and infrastructure, cities in transition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherCork Institute of Technology
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jun 2013
EventTHRIC 2013 - Galway
Duration: 1 Jun 2013 → …


ConferenceTHRIC 2013
Period1/06/13 → …


  • Urban regeneration
  • conference
  • sporting and entertainment destination
  • building capacity and infrastructure
  • cities in transition.


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