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Tourism awards night reveals outstanding performers

Posted by Tourism NI

Published May 31, 2019


The 2019 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards in association with Diageo Northern Ireland have tonight honoured achievement across Northern Ireland’s tourism industry.

Tourism awards night reveals outstanding performers

Held in Armagh for the first time, at the Palace Demesne, the awards brought hundreds of industry professionals together to recognise and celebrate the industry’s excellence and innovation.

Hosted by BBC broadcaster and presenter Jo Scott, the black tie dinner and awards night featured a Georgian-themed marquee in the grounds of the Archbishop’s Palace.

Winners revealed included Derry International Hallowe'en Festival, which scooped the Best International Experience, and the Balmoral Show, which lifted the Best NI Event or Festival Experience award.

Derry~Londonderry was also a winner in the coveted ‘Best Stay’ accommodation category, with the Bishop’s Gate Hotel earning the title of NI’s Best Hotel Stay. Completing the category were Peartree Hill B&B near Dundonald in County Down, which won NI’s Best Guesthouse/B&B Stay, and Ballygally Holiday Apartments in County Antrim, which took the title of NI’s Best Self-Catering Stay.

There were two awards up for grabs in the Authentic NI Experience of the Year. The site based award was won by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for Antrim Castle Gardens, while the tour, trail or immersive award went to Armagh Cider Company.

In a great year for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council contested in three categories, gaining the top step in the NI Food & Drink Experience of the Year for its Armagh Food and Cider Festival.

In other categories, Gareth Murphy of We Are Vertigo in Belfast was awarded the title of Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year and Limavady’s Stendhal Festival lifted the Most Promising Authentic NI Event or Festival Experience.

National Museums NI was given an Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award for its long-term commitment to growing the quality of the cultural and tourism offer across Northern Ireland.

Another special award went to Mark Rodgers of Dalriada Kingdom Tours, who earned the title of Tourism Hero for his exceptional efforts to support the widow of a man who tragically passed away while visiting Northern Ireland. 

The awards, now in their forty-first year, have had a hugely positive impact on the tourism and hospitality sector, providing a benchmark for all businesses to aspire to and delivering significant benefits to shortlisted and winning businesses alike.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Tourism NI Chairman Terence Brannigan said:

“Tourism is now one of Northern Ireland’s most important export industries with almost 3 million people visiting from out of state, spending some £2.5 million per day and supporting 65,000 jobs”.

“The energy, commitment and enthusiasm of the hundreds of businesses, large and small, that make up our tourism eco-system is outstanding. They make us all proud of where we live and make Northern Ireland a better place in which to live.”

Paddy McKenna, Commercial Manager, Diageo Northern Ireland, said; “It has been a fantastic evening for the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland and a fitting occasion to acknowledge and celebrate the individuals, businesses and initiatives helping to put us firmly on the tourism map. On behalf of Diageo, congratulations to all the winners, indeed to everyone shortlisted for awards. I think we can feel extremely positive and excited about the future of tourism in Northern Ireland.”

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The full list of 2019 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards winners is:

Authentic NI Experience of the Year – Site Based – Sponsored by Diageo NI

Winner: Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council for Antrim Castle Gardens 

Highly commended: RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre  

Commended: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for Armagh Georgian Festival       

Authentic NI Experience of the Year – Tour, Trail or Immersive – Sponsored by Diageo NI

Winner: Armagh Cider Company for Tours of Armagh Cider

Highly commended: Causeway Coast Foodie Tours for Catch and Sea Tour  

Highly commended: DC Tours, Belfast      

Best Digital Marketing Campaign – Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

Winner: W5 – Dinosaur Encounter  

Highly commended: Nerve Centre in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council - Derry Halloween

Commended: Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism, Seasonal Digital Marketing Campaign

Best International Experience of the Year – Sponsored by Tourism Ireland

Winner: Derry City and Strabane District Council for Derry International Hallowe'en Festival 2018 

Highly commended: National Trust NI – Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience

Commended: Odyssey International –Leaders of Excellence 

Best NI Event or Festival Experience – Sponsored by Tourism Ireland

Winner: The Balmoral Show, Royal Ulster Agricultural Society 

Highly commended: Féile an Phobail for Féile 30 – A Community Celebration of Global Culture   

Commended: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 2018

Best Use of Digital Technology to Improve the Visitor Experience

Winner: Belfast City Council and Titanic Foundation for Hello Maritime Mile

Highly commended: National Trust for Introduction of online timed ticketing system for Carrick-a-Rede   

Most Promising Authentic NI Event or Festival Experience

Winner: Stendhal Festival   

Highly commended: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for Armagh Food & Cider Festival 

Highly commended: Open House Festival, Bangor    

Commended: Outdoor Recreation NI for Giants Causeway Coast Sportive 

NI Food & Drink Experience of the Year – Sponsored by Yellow Door

Winner: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for Armagh Food & Cider Festival

Highly commended: Hughes Craft Distillery/The StillHouse Moira for Distillery Gastropub and Gin School     

Commended: Country Lifestyle Exhibitions (CLE) Ltd for The Food Festival, Shane’s Castle

NI Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year – Sponsored by Ulster University

Winner: Gareth Murphy, We Are Vertigo   

Highly commended: Albert Titterington, Country Lifestyle Exhibitions (CLE) Ltd

Commended: Sean McLaughlin, Fullerton Arms 

Commended: The Wilson Family, Montalto Estate

NI’s Best Guesthouse / B&B Stay – Sponsored by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

Winner: Peartree Hill B&B    

Highly commended: Baytree Boutique B&B        

Commended: Rooms at Rue 

NI’s Best Hotel Stay – Sponsored by Robb Brothers Wine Merchant

Winner: Bishop's Gate Hotel           

Highly commended: Bullitt Hotel   

Highly commended: Bushmills Inn 

NI’s Best Self Catering Stay

Winner: Ballygally Holiday Apartments 

Highly commended: Larchfield Estate  

Commended: Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges    

Special Awards

Outstanding contribution to tourism – Sponsored by Diageo NI

Winner: National Museums Northern Ireland

NI Tourism Hero

Winner: Mark Rodgers, Dalriada Kingdom Tours


Posted by Tourism NI

Produced by Tourism NI