Towards a resilient, sustainable and inclusive economy
The importance of tourism to the city economy and Belfast to the regional visitor economy cannot be underestimated. Twenty years of tourism growth has welcomed millions of visitors to the city and been a catalyst for the regeneration of Belfast. It has established hundreds of new enterprises for our economy, thousands of jobs for our residents and created opportunities for our communities and neighbourhoods. Tourism has played an important part in enriching the culture, vibrancy of the city and the quality of life for all the people who call Belfast home.
With the launch of Belfast’s first resilience strategy and climate plan, the city has set an ambitious goal ‘to transition to an inclusive, zero emissions economy in a generation.’ The plan sets out thirty transformational programmes to future-proof our city for generations to come, a commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth and a plan to make Belfast climate resilient.
Our sustainability policy
As the city’s Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), Visit Belfast recognises that it has an important role to play in supporting Belfast’s ambition. In partnership with Belfast City Council, we have committed to the development of a sustainable tourism plan as one of the resilience strategy transformational programmes. It is within this context that Visit Belfast is launching its first sustainability policy.
Visit Belfast – a renewed sense of purpose
Visit Belfast’s three-year recovery plan Rebuilding City Tourism 2021-24 sets out a new direction of travel, illustrating a step change in our approach to our marketing and visitor servicing activity, and the generation and measurement of tourism success for the betterment of our businesses, our employees, our residents, our city and its ecosystem.
This is reflected in our renewed purpose:
“To create and service visitors for Belfast and Northern Ireland in order to generate economic benefit and inclusive growth, creating jobs and prosperity for the city region, enabling Belfast to become a more sustainable place to visit, meet and live in.”
In line with our business plan objectives and KPIs, Visit Belfast will work to:
Reduce the environmental impact of our business and look for better, greener and more sustainable ways of working
Build sustainability capacity within Visit Belfast and empower our employees
Support and improve employee health and wellbeing
Procure goods and services more sustainably
Champion sustainability within our industry – encouraging collaboration, catalysing innovation and improvement
Promote sustainable choices and experiences and positively influence the actions of visitors
Work with our B2B clients (event organisers, tour operators and cruise lines) to make sustainable business easy
Generate and manage year-round visitors to Belfast in a way which is sensitive to the environment and communities
Maximise the social and economic impacts of Visit Belfast’s activities – to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth
Promote and develop Belfast as an accessible, inclusive and welcoming destination for all
Our ten commitments are aligned to eight of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals below:
Management, Delivery and Performance
We will ensure delivery on our commitments through the following process:
- Agreeing an annual sustainable action plan as a key part of Visit Belfast’s business planning process with agreed targets and KPIs, to be approved by the Board with performance reports at least twice annually on progress.
- Establishing a sustainability team within Visit Belfast to support delivery of the sustainable action plan and delivery on policy commitments.
- Ensuring that all employees understand the policy, receive sustainability training as part of their role within Visit Belfast and are encouraged to be champions of sustainability across the organisation.
- Publishing our sustainability policy on our website and communicating it with all key stakeholders, industry, clients, suppliers and residents.
- Reviewing and updating our policy regularly to ensure continuous improvement of our sustainability efforts. Next update due September 2023.
- Participate in the annual Global Destination Sustainability Index to measure sustainability performance at a destination level (environment, supplier, destination management and society).
- Complete the Green Tourism Accreditation process which measures sustainability performance at an organisation level (Visit Belfast).
Sustainability & Impact – 2022/23 Performance
Visit Belfast’s three-year recovery plan Rebuilding City Tourism 2021-24 sets out a new direction of travel for our organisation, illustrating a step change in our approach to our marketing and visitor servicing activity, and the generation and measurement of tourism success for the betterment of our businesses, our employees, our residents, our city and its ecosystem.
This plan is underpinned by our sustainability strategy and sustainability policy which was approved by our Board in June 2021 and published. This has been informed by consultation with Belfast City Council, Tourism NI, Our regional tourism partnerships, Belfast’s Sustainability and Resilience Board, NITA, NIHF, Eastside Partnership, Visit West Belfast and over 400 partner businesses and stakeholders. Our plans were launched at a Sustainable Belfast event in June 2021. Sustainability and impact performance is reported to our operational committee and Visit Belfast Board and we publish performance annually.
Visit Belfast achieved a Green Tourism Bronze accreditation in June 2021. Read more about Belfast City Council and Visit Belfast’s partnership with Green Tourism and the launch of our White Paper.