NMD Council Sets Out Its Stall At IAAT Conference

Over 200 Attend Inspiring Adventure Tourism Conference

Newry Mourne and Down District Council was delighted to sponsor the annual conference for Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism (IAAT), which was held in the district between the between the 23-24 November.

Over 200 delegates from a rich array of adventure tourism organisations across Ireland and beyond attended the two day event, which has never before been held in Northern Ireland.

Talking about its involvement with the conference, Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage said: “The Council is delighted that the IAAT committee chose our destination to hold such a prestigious event and we were pleased to be the main event sponsor for the conference. 

“Our Council is thrilled to be able to provide such a unique platform to showcase the adventure and beauty of the region to everyone who attended”.

Adventure Tourism is one of the fastest growing and most exciting sectors within Irish tourism and IAAT aims to work with adventure tourism operators to develop this area in a sustainable and responsible manner. 

The first day of the conference offered delegates an opportunity to explore the destination through exciting local adventure activities, including extreme e-biking, foraging, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and stand-up paddle boarding.

That evening delegates then attended a Tourism Showcase and Networking event at the iconic Slieve Donard Hotel, which featured over 50 local tourism operators exhibiting their unique offerings. 

It was also an excellent opportunity to meet tour operators, activity providers, agents and other stakeholders from all over Ireland to discuss potential collaborations.

On the second day, delegates had an opportunity to attend talks and panel discussions featuring a series of key insights and inspiration from industry leaders such as Tourism NI Chief Executive, John McGrillen; Fáilte Ireland Chief Executive, Paul Kelly; Louise Finnegan from Tourism Ireland; Joanne Stewart from Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance; Eoghan O’Mara Walsh from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation and Peter Boland from Alliance for Insurance Reform.

To finish the truly inspiring couple of days, the keynote of the 2022 conference was delivered by the phenomenal Extreme Adventurer, Damian Browne.

He spoke of his extraordinary recent solo row from New York to Galway and touched on key themes such as resilience, positive mental health, and the true spirit of adventure.

Damian then took part in a gripping interview on stage with Irish Independent Travel Editor, Pól O’Conghaile, which left delegates going home invigorated to “point your boat in the right direction and keep going”.

Reflecting on IAAT’s fourth annual conference, IAAT Chief Executive, Brendan Kenny said:  “We are absolutely thrilled to have finally brought the Adventure Tourism Conference to Northern Ireland and specifically to the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion destination.

“We’re in a vital period of recovery for tourism on the island of Ireland and so to see and hear such positivity and resilience amongst those in attendance is encouraging for what will surely be some challenging days ahead.”