Tourism businesses are constantly innovating, developing new products and services adding value to their business and ultimately to the visitor proposition. There are a range of supports to ensure that innovation is embedded in your business.

From an innovation perspective, the industry has been forced to continually innovate to adapt to the digital revolution which has swept through the travel and tourism industries in recent years.

Today’s traveller is accustomed to being able to do practically anything from their mobile device; from booking flights, checking in, and booking hotel rooms, unlocking their hotel room door, ordering room service, accessing information, booking experiences, sharing these with their peers and sharing their opinions instantly on review websites.

What is Innovation?

The development and implementation of a new or improved product, service, model, or process which is novel (significantly different), and has/will be introduced to the market (product/service) or implemented within the business (process, model) creating value.

Paul O’Callaghan, Innovate NI Manager shares just what innovation is:

Why should businesses innovate?

Innovation is hugely important for business survival. Businesses must innovate to adapt and grow in a competitive marketplace.  As products become outdated quickly and customer preferences change. Your business will have a better chance of survival if it implements an innovation management system to continuously bring new ideas to market.

Titanic Belfast

Continuous improvement at Titanic Belfast drives digital innovation, focusing on seamless experiences for visitors through mobile ticketing, digital maps and multi-media guides provided in different languages.

Crumlin Road Gaol

Innovation is central to the experience at the Gaol, continuing with the 2023 completion of a digital project to enhance the self-guided visitor experience which includes holograms to bring the history to life and an AR  Zone for visitors to fully immerse themselves into the Gaol when it was a working prison.

Innovate NI

Innovate NI is a Department for the Economy initiative, delivered by Invest Northern Ireland, in partnership with local councils and further education colleges. Our goal is to increase the number of Northern Ireland businesses engaged in innovation.

The aim is to help businesses create value from ideas to increase market share, survive business shocks, improve competitiveness and become successful innovators.

Find out more


The Innovate NI Programme

The Innovate NI Innovation Programme has four distinct elements:


Digital Transformation Flexible Fund

can offer eligible businesses and social enterprises help to fund their digital transformation project.

The DTFF grants are worth between £5,000 and £20,000 and are designed to help small and micro businesses accelerate their digital transformation ambitions.

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Draft Tourism Strategy and 10X Economy

Both of these documents highlight the importance of innovation.

The Draft Tourism Strategy identifies the strategic future direction needed to realise tourism’s already vital contribution to the Department for the Economy’s ‘10x Vision: A Decade of Innovation’; the outcome of which will ultimately see Northern Ireland positioned amongst the elite small advanced economies in the world, and the benefits of this change felt by all of our people.

Tourism Strategy for Northern Ireland | 10 Year Plan (

The Department for the Economy’s economic vision, ‘10x Economy - an Economic Vision for a Decade of Innovation”, seeks to set a long term vision for the Northern Ireland economy to deliver a ten times better economy. The outcome of this vision will ultimately see Northern Ireland positioned amongst the elite small advanced economies in the world, and the benefits of this change felt by all of our people. A 10X  Economy -  A 10x Economy (

Case Studies


The Innovation Framework

Getting started and understanding the innovation framework:


Innovate Tourism Roadshows

Tourism NI partnered with Innovate NI on Innovate Tourism, a series of regional interactive workshops designed to demonstrate the importance of innovation to your business’s future success and how to embed innovation in day to day operations, creating value and enhancing the visitor experience. Find out more about these events in this short video.

Watch the video below:


Innovate Tourism Top Tips: