Belfast’s tourism appeal is reaching the homes of millions of people both near and far, thanks to a range of targeted digital activity aimed at keeping online users regularly engaged.

As travel restrictions continue to impact on the global tourism industry, destination marketing organisations around the world – including Visit Belfast – have moved quickly to capitalise on the big leap in the number of consumers who are spending significantly more time online and on social media to fill their time.

The move by Belfast’s official destination marketing and management organisation is part of a number of measures designed to support local tourism businesses and to keep Belfast front-of-mind for those planning future visits when the time is right. For now, Visit Belfast’s aim is to encourage people to stay safe and stay home.

Capturing a significant uplift in online activity and social media engagement as people spend more time online, Visit Belfast has worked quickly to maintain brand awareness, sustain interest, loyalty and trust.

As a result, its reach and engagement has been growing strongly in recent weeks, reflecting the 40% jump in social media use across the UK*.

Last year, Visit Belfast reached a local and global audience of 27.3 million online users, demonstrating the power of web and social media channels in promoting the city to both local and international audiences.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive at Visit Belfast said: “Travel and tourism has been among those sectors most impacted by the crisis. However, with more people spending more time online, this a huge opportunity for us to reach increasing numbers of people, during this time.

Digital channels have never been more important and user-generated content has never been more important and it’s been shown that consumers increasingly rely on this when making their travel decisions.

Our promotional activity is showcasing everything that’s great about our unique and welcoming city while encouraging everyone to get involved to keep those messages alive from the safety of their own homes for now, and until we can safely welcome everyone back once again.”

Using a warm, local and inclusive tone of voice, Visit Belfast is confidently maintaining its online profile by sharing happy and uplifting memories, experiences and eye-catching, prolific Belfast images which is helping to consolidate and harness a renewed and growing civic pride.

It is supporting this activity with several standalone channel-appropriate initiatives including a Friday Instagram quiz which challenges audiences to test their local knowledge as well as a stream of Twitter posts sharing positive news stories.

An engaging Facebook ‘Did You Know’ series has also been launched, which is successfully providing a unique opportunity for users and new followers to get directly involved in finding out more about Belfast.

With more than 500 industry partners, Visit Belfast is tapping into a range of information and updates from tourism providers, enabling it to provide entertaining blogs that promote Belfast at its virtual best while showcasing the city’s world-class attractions, best local produce, appealing cooking demos and exciting musical experiences. continues to be a central port of call for advice and entertainment ideas, supported by its partners, it is regularly updated to promote a wealth of activity that can be carried out by everyone at home. It also acts as a primary digital signpost for a range of exciting virtual and live experiences which are planned or are immediately available.

With great success, and in an effort to generate greater volumes of original content a series of virtual street art tours and jigsaws have been made available, reaching audiences right across the globe.

Gerry Lennon added:

“As we plan our recovery, inspiring confidence and providing fresh inspiration are important components in our promotion and marketing while we support and maintain our stay safe, stay home message which supports health agency and government guidelines to help protect the NHS and save lives.

In the meantime, maintaining and rebuilding awareness of Belfast’s attractiveness, energy and creativity in the face of this crisis will be key to ensure we play our part in rebuilding and supporting our tourism industry’s recovery response.”

Visit Belfast is also working on a range of new digital initiatives, including partner training sessions with Google Garage aimed at delivering training on a variety of digital topics including social media and digital strategy to help businesses improve their skills and promote themselves online.

*Statista: Role of social media companies during the coronavirus outbreak according to internet users worldwide as of March 2020, by country