Tourism’s finest take Enniskillen Castle by storm
Northern Ireland Tourism Awards
Published May 19, 2017
The Northern Ireland Tourism Awards took Enniskillen Castle by storm last night in a celebration worthy of Hugh the Hospitable Maguire.
Jorge Lopes, Diageo NI; Tim Husbands, Titanic Belfast and Tourism NI Chairman, Terence Brannigan.
The annual black tie event, regarded as the highlight of the tourism calendar, recognised 37 of the industry’s most inspirational individuals, businesses and organisations and marked tourism’s success over the past year.
Themed as a banquet that could have been hosted by local Gaelic chief Hugh the Hospitable, the event in the recently refurbished Enniskillen Castle was organised by Tourism Northern Ireland in association with Diageo Northern Ireland.
It followed the Tourism NI Annual Conference held earlier in the day in Fermanagh’s Killyhevlin Hotel.
Reflecting innovations and trends within the industry, the 2017 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards spanned 12 different categories and included two special awards.
The MAC in Belfast scooped Outstanding Visitor Experience of the Year for its David Hockney: I draw, I do 2016 Exhibition, while Browns Restaurant lifted the Best Food Tourism Experience.
The Bushmills Inn Hotel & Restaurant was a double winner, taking both the Hotel of the Year and Customer Service Excellence prizes.
Best Event or Festival Experience title, decided by public vote, was won by Ulster Rugby vs Clermont Auvergne, an epic European Champions Cup clash.
Blessingbourne Estate in Fivemiletown lifted the Non-Serviced Accommodation award and in other accommodation categories Portrush’s Blackrock House B&B won the Serviced Accommodation award and Finn Lough Resort Forest Domes earned the Unique Tourist Accommodation accolade.
Titanic Belfast, which was named World’s Leading Visitor Attraction in 2016, was awarded Outstanding Contribution to Tourism.
A Local Tourism Hero award went to David Wilson of Royal County Down Golf Club.
Commending the awardees, Tourism NI Chairman, Terence Brannigan, said: “The Northern Ireland Tourism Awards celebrate our hard-working tourism industry, and I am delighted that this year they have also been able to showcase the history and heritage around the recently refurbished Enniskillen Castle and the tourism product in the beautiful lakelands of Fermanagh.
"We are fortunate to have such a range of outstanding people, places and organisations who contribute to and invest so much in our industry. These awards provided the opportunity for everybody to see and congratulate their efforts.
“What we have seen tonight in terms of best practice, innovation and creativity emphasises the positive outlook for tourism and indeed its potential to grow the Northern Ireland economy.”
Jorge Lopes, Country Director, Diageo NI said;
“Last night’s Tourism Awards have once again served to highlight the breadth and depth of our tourism and hospitality offering in Northern Ireland and, on behalf of Diageo, may I extend our congratulations to all those involved for an inspirational evening.
There is no doubt as to the continued importance of this industry to our local economy and community as a whole and this celebration was a fitting tribute. I know that Diageo’s pride in sponsoring these awards, and our commitment in helping to support and expand Northern Ireland’s tourism and hospitality offering, is shared by many.”
Caption: Pictured are Jorge Lopes, Country Director, Diageo NI; Tim Husbands Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast, winners of The Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award; and Tourism NI Chairman, Terence Brannigan.
The full list of 2017 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards winners is:
Outstanding Visitor Experience, sponsored by Tourism Ireland
Winner: The MAC, Belfast – David Hockney: I draw, I do 2016 Exhibition
Highly Commended: Todd's Leap Activity Centre
Commended: National Trust Fermanagh, Florence Court
Customer Service Excellence, sponsored by First Trust Bank
Winner: The Bushmills Inn Hotel & Restaurant
Highly Commended: Galgorm Resort & Spa
Commended: Visit Derry
Hotel of the Year, sponsored by First Trust Bank
Winner: The Bushmills Inn Hotel & Restaurant
Highly Commended: Bishop’s Gate Hotel
Commended: Lough Erne Resort
Winner: Blessingbourne Estate
Highly Commended: Florida Manor
Commended: Fermanagh Self Catering
Winner: Blackrock House B&B
Highly Commended: Blackwell House
Commended: Adelphi Portrush
Unique Tourist Accommodation, sponsored by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council
Winner: Finn Lough Forest Domes
Highly Commended: Belle Isle Limited, Belle Isle Castle and Private Island
Commended: East Coast Adventure Ltd, East Coast Glamping
Best Marketing Initiative
Winner: Lough Neagh Partnership, Eel-Eat
Highly Commended: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Celebrate our Story of Christmas
Commended: Waters Edge Leisure, Pickie Fun Park
Sustainable Tourism Award
Winner: Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council)
Highly Commended: Fish City, Belfast
Tourism Innovation Award, sponsored by DIAGEO Northern Ireland
Winner: Atlantic Sessions, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council/Snow Water Partnership
Highly Commended: ‘Artisans at Work’ Craft Reach Economusée, Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust
Commended: Museum of Free Derry, RoE2
Most Promising New Tourism Business, sponsored by Ulster Business School
Winner: Bishop's Gate Hotel
Highly Commended: Fullerton Arms
Commended: Erne Water Taxi
Best Food Tourism Experience, sponsored by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council
Winner: Browns Restaurant
Highly Commended: The Clark Restaurant at Ardtara Country House Hotel
Commended: James Street South
Commended: NATIVE by Yellow Door
Best Event or Festival Experience (by public vote), sponsored by Tourism Ireland
Winner: Ulster Rugby vs Clermont Auvergne, Ulster Rugby
Highly Commended: Balmoral Show 2016, Royal Ulster Agricultural Society
Commended: Sunflowerfest 2016, Sunflowerfest Unlimited CIC
Local Tourism Hero
Awardee: David Wilson, Royal County Down Golf Club
Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, sponsored by Diageo Northern Ireland
Awardee: Titanic Belfast
Posted by Tourism NI
Produced by Tourism NI