Work Begins On Belfast Welcome Centre

Tourism in Belfast has received a boost with the announcement that work has started on a new visitor information centre.

The £1.8m project will see a new centre built in the city centre, located opposite City Hall.

As part of Belfast City Council's £150m Investment Programme, the former Northern Bank building will be transformed into a state-of-the-art tourist hub in a contract worth £1m, with the rest of the funding covering IT and design within the centre.

It follows the release of figures last week showing that overnight visitors to Belfast have increased by almost 44%, with a 32% leap in the number of 'out of state' visitors spending the night in the city.

The accessible ground floor location, due to open in November 2013, will replace the current Belfast Welcome Centre, while the offices of the renamed Visit Belfast (formerly Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau) will also move to the new site. The existing centre, located above Boots in Donegall Place, will remain open while work on the new Visit Belfast Welcome Centre is underway.

The project has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, and administered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

Formally announcing the change of name to Visit Belfast, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said the new centre would provide a world-class visitor facility, with cutting edge technology used to showcase what Belfast has to offer.

He added: "Last year, there were 7.59 million visits to Belfast and, thanks to the exposure of events like MTV and President Obama's recent visit, it’s vital we take advantage of our position as a destination of choice and provide a 21stcentury centre with the kind of services modern visitors now expect.

"The addition of multimedia information screens and self-service kiosks means tourists and locals will be able to book tickets, view maps and check what's on at the click of a button.

"This innovative use of IT will also tell Belfast's 'story' in a more engaging way, highlighting what there is to do and see in local neighbourhoods, like the Gaeltacht Quarter or the Titanic area, so all parts of the city can benefit from the tourism 'effect'."


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