Approximately 200 Dutch travel professionals including travel agents, tour operators and group organisers, as well as travel journalists from the Netherlands and Belgium are in Belfast this week for the annual congress of the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR).
The annual conference, which is taking place over four days from 21 to 24 November, is an important opportunity to present Northern Ireland as a holiday destination and a world class business location to Dutch travel operators.
Latest annual figures show that the island of Ireland welcomed a record 241,000 visitors from the Netherlands spending over €100 million. Approximately 30,000 of these visitors included an overnight in Northern Ireland and spent almost £10 million.
Tourism NI’s Chief Executive John McGrillen commented,
“I am delighted that the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators has chosen Belfast for its annual congress which provides an excellent opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland and develop networks between local industry and the Dutch travel trade.
“Business tourism represents a priority area for us in working to grow tourism in Northern Ireland. It’s an important way to showcase the very best of our home grown tourism product and Belfast, in particular, is becoming a favourite destination for conference and event organisers. I am also pleased that Tourism NI and our partners have already secured a number of major business events for next year including VisitBritain’s flagship travel trade event ‘Explore Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ for May 2020.”
Frank Oostdam, President/Director of the ANVR said: “We are delighted to bring our annual ANVR congress event to Belfast this year. Hosting this congress in Northern Ireland has provided our tour operators, travel agents and journalists with a unique opportunity to experience first-hand what is on offer here, both in terms of leisure and business, which can then be used to help package and promote NI further to our clients and travel agent partners.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to welcome the annual ANVR congress to Belfast. We are delighted to have played our part in securing this event, which confirms Belfast as a world-class business and conference destination. It’s a unique opportunity to show these influential travel agents and tour operators what’s on offer here and will help to increase the number of Dutch holidaymakers to Northern Ireland in 2020 and beyond.”
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast added: “We are delighted that ANVR has chosen Belfast as its 2019 destination, particularly as this has come as a direct result of our industry event held in Amsterdam earlier this year, organised in partnership with Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland.
“Engagement with international travel trade provides an effective way of bringing business to our hotels and attractions, and this event give us a unique opportunity to demonstrate the breadth of products and experiences available in Belfast and Northern Ireland to the Dutch market.”
The Dutch tour operators will also take part in a familiarisation trip, hosted by Tourism NI, sampling some of the very best of Northern Ireland’s hospitality, visitor attractions and experiences. Highlights of the trip include Giant’s Causeway, Belfast Food Tour, Black Cab Tour and a History & Heritage tour at Crumlin Road Gaol and Belfast City Hall.