Visit Belfast’s state-of-the-art visitor information centre has been voted the best in Northern Ireland, securing a major award for the city region’s destination management organisation at this year’s Northern Ireland Travel & Tourism Awards.

Opened in 2013, the £1.8 million visitor centre was praised at this year’s event for the exceptional visitor experience delivered by its team of dedicated staff.

Located opposite Belfast City Hall, the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre provides an innovative and welcoming approach to visitor information, successfully combining the self-serve technology, traditional tourist literature and face to face services provided by the visitor information advisors.

Operated by Visit Belfast, on behalf of Belfast City Council and Tourism NI, a public/private membership organisation which represents more than 500 tourism businesses, including key strategic partners Translink, Diageo NI and Value Cabs, the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre has handled more than 3.1m enquiries since it opened almost eight years ago.

MaryJo McCanny, Director of Visitor Servicing at Visit Belfast, said:

Winning Best Visitor Information Centre 2021 is a real vote of confidence in the work we do. It recognises the team’s efforts in successfully providing a best-in-class information service for every enquiry handled and ensuring every visitor begins their visit to Belfast on a positive note.

Providing a welcoming, effective and efficient visitor information service is a critical element of our tourism recovery and to increasing referrals to our tourism partners and encouraging return visits – this award goes a long way in recognising the contribution which the Visitor Servicing Team makes.  I’m delighted on behalf of our hardworking team to accept this important award.”

A ‘one-stop-shop’ for visitors wanting to find out about city events, buy tickets or book accommodation, the centre includes information ‘islands’ telling the story of Belfast through people, places, experiences and events; digital maps which explore each part of the city; self-service touch screens listing more than 400 major attractions across Northern Ireland, and a gift shop with unique, Belfast-themed products.

For the hundreds of thousands of local, national and international visitors arriving by coach, plane, ferry or cruise ship every year, the Belfast Welcome Centre is their primary port of call.

Welcoming the award, Visit Belfast Chief Executive, Gerry Lennon, said:

Belfast is a compelling and increasingly popular destination for leisure and business visitors and the performance of our visitor information centres are vital to maintain our city’s success and our reputation in a highly competitive tourism market.

The Visit Belfast Welcome Centre and our information desks at George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport and the Belfast Cruise Terminal will continue to play a key role in driving tourism footfall across the City and Region, and supporting our tourism industry as it recovers in the short to medium term.”

Earlier this month, Belfast was named “Best Events Destination” at the Conference & Incentive Travel (C&IT) Awards 2021. It had previously been awarded the title in both 2018 and 2019.  The awards, which are held in London, recognise the best of the Meetings, Incentives, Conference, and Events (MICE) industry around the world and are firmly recognised as the most sought-after honours in business tourism.