Tourism Minister Arlene Foster today launched a new Tourism Event Funding Programme to support the local events industry.
The programme is administered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and designed to drive visitor numbers, increase spend in the local economy and raise the profile of Northern Ireland as a positive place, not just to visit, but to live, work, study and invest in.
NITB has streamlined and restructured the programme to ensure it supports the further development of national and international tourism events taking place in Northern Ireland from 1 April, 2014 until 31 March, 2015.
Speaking at the launch, Arlene Foster said: “World class events are now firmly established within the tourism fabric of Northern Ireland, adding to the positive perceptions of our destination and contributing to building our international profile.
“We can already look forward to the prestigious Giro d’Italia in May 2014 and the Tall Ships returning in 2015. It is important that we keep the momentum going and look to stage further events, festivals and activities that will inspire people to come to Northern Ireland.
“The events industry has a central role to play in generating visitors. This simplified funding package presents public, private and voluntary organisations with a great opportunity to give people more reasons to come and spend their time, and their money, in Northern Ireland.”
There are two funding streams available to event organisers through the new programme.
The International Tourism Events Fund will move to a three-year rolling framework supporting major events that attract a high level of international visitors, gain international media coverage and deliver a return on investment of at least 5:1.
The Tourism Events Sponsorship Scheme will support national events that contribute to a specific geographical area of Northern Ireland and will have a simplified application process.
NITB will host a series of road shows in Belfast, Portrush, Londonderry, Enniskillen and Newcastle in September to provide full details on the new Tourism Event Funding Programme, which will include the changes made to this year’s scheme.
Susie McCullough, Director of Business Support and Events at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said: “Events are a very important driver in developing Northern Ireland’s tourism industry. They attract tourists, spectators and event participants as well as extend the season, increase spend and lengthen the time visitors stay.
“This year, after consultation with industry and partners, we have made significant changes to the programme, including a simplified and streamlined application process. Events will benefit from greater flexibility and there will be more opportunities for new events to apply.
For further information or to register for a free place at the NITB road shows, please visit http://www.nitb.com/events