Skip the NI Direct Bar
Skip navigation

Local tourism businesses feature in top guide

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tourism Minister, Arlene Foster, has launched the Blue Book, a guide to luxury tourist accommodation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

This is first time that the launch of this prestigious guide to accommodation has been held in Northern Ireland, and this year’s guide includes six local properties: Ardtara Country House, Belle Isle Castle, Bushmills Inn, Glasdrumman Lodge, the Merchant Hotel and Newforge Country House.

Ireland’s Blue Book enjoys a reputation as a connoisseur’s guide to the finest accommodation and dining in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and its focus is on luxury properties which offer great character and individuality. Properties featured are renowned nationally and internationally for their high standards of traditional hospitality, elegant accommodation and superb cuisine.

Launching the Blue Book at Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office in Belfast, Minister Arlene Foster said: “Tourism in Northern Ireland has experienced huge growth over the past decade, with record visitor numbers and visitor spend.

“However, with the increasingly difficult economic climate, the tourism market is facing a number of challenges as consumer spending power reduces, competition between destinations will intensify. But with challenge comes opportunity, and now more than ever a quality visitor experience will become the measure of Northern Ireland’s tourism success.

“The Blue Book shows the quality that exists in Northern Ireland and I am pleased that six unique properties are included in the 2009 edition, chosen for their strong individualistic style and character. The expectations of our visitors are rising all the time, so it is essential that those working in the tourism industry constantly strive to improve standards and develop skills to meet the demands of visitors.”

Ken Healy, President of Ireland’s Blue Book, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be launching the 35th edition of Ireland’s Blue Book in Belfast. We were the first association in the tourist industry to embrace an all island concept and our first Northern Ireland member joined us back in 1987, over 21 years ago. We have now grown our membership in Northern Ireland to include six excellent properties, which contribute substantially to the tourist industry.”

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said: “This book is an excellent guide to the best accommodation and fine dining in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and it is very encouraging to see six local properties included. I believe this is an indication of the strength of our products and our growing hospitality industry.

“However, there are many opportunities to ensure that our industry continues to develop and one of the areas that the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) will be focusing on is the development of specific industry programmes to support the sector’s ability to compete internationally.”

Membership of Ireland’s Blue Book is by invitation only with more than 170,000 copies of the book distributed worldwide. Members of the Blue Book are also part of the prestigious Historic hotels of Europe Federation which brings exposure to approximately two million overseas brochures.

Notes to Editors:

1. Photographs to follow at approximately 7.30pm this evening.

2. For media enquiries, please contact DETI Press Office on 028 9052 9297. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager Number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.