Visit Belfast said it was optimistic for the year ahead as members gathered for the organisation’s 15th Annual General Meeting which was held this year (2014) at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich.

Pictured with Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Maíre Hendron outside the West Belfast venue are Chair of Visit Belfast’s board David Gavaghan, Visit Belfast Chief Executive Gerry Lennon, Chief Economist at Danske Bank Angela McGowan and Jack MacSiacais from the Gaeltacht Quarter Board.

Visit Belfast, which was established in 1999 and which is responsible for selling Belfast as a business, leisure and cruise destination to local and international markets, reflected on a year which saw it handle 524,200 tourist enquiries, steer the delivery of a record 61 cruise ships through its Cruise Belfast partnership, and secure 82 conference wins, and generate 513,000 trips from its City Break campaigns in GB, ROI and in NI.

In his first address as the new Chair of Visit Belfast’s board, Titanic Quarter chief David Gavaghan looked back at a successful year which saw notable increases in hotel occupancy, conference bookings, cruise ships and city break visitors, but cautioned against complacency.

David Gavaghan said, “There’s no doubt that the backdrop to our year in review has been overwhelmingly positive but I’m keen to stress that the achievements have been made in an increasingly, globally-competitive arena. With continued investment in the tourism sector, such as the extension of the Belfast Waterfront and regular hosting of world-class events, Belfast can look forward to further increasing visitor numbers which benefits so many local industries.  Fortunately, in Belfast, and in Northern Ireland, we have long recognised that tourism is a cornerstone for growth, which is why I’m pleased to report continued progress for Visit Belfast in the year behind us.”