New Development Programme Announced For NI Tourism Recovery

A new website development programme has been announced as part of a drive to support the recovery and growth of Northern Ireland's tourism sector.

With capital grants available of up to £40,000, the programme is designed to help existing tourism experience providers enhance their websites as well as market and sell their services online.

Following an Expression of Interest (EOI) process, eligible applicants will work with a subject expert to undertake a digital audit of their business.

Commenting on the launch, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: "The majority of visitors to Northern Ireland like to book their arrangements independently. The recent pandemic has resulted in a transformed demand, with a desire to visit and book differently. While online promotion and bookability was increasingly becoming a prerequisite prior to the pandemic, it is now an essential requirement of doing business in the tourism industry.

"The Website Development Programme is open to tourism experience providers and attractions and will help to provide technical advice to enhance websites and produce a website development plan. The fund also allows for up to 80% funding towards eligible costs of implementing those plans with the maximum amount of grant funding available for any one project of £40,000."

Rural Development Minister Edwin Poots added: "Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors for Northern Ireland, providing jobs and livelihoods in rural areas, which prove popular destinations for travellers.
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"This is why it is important to ensure that our tourism businesses have a strong website presence that provides greater market reach, attracts potential visitors and generates online bookings and sales. I hope the funding from my Department will help build confidence within the tourism sector to enable it to grow back stronger and better with sustainability at its core."

Commenting on the programme, Tourism NI's Director of Strategic Development, David Roberts said: "We are delighted to open the programme again at a critical period for many tourism businesses across Northern Ireland. Visitors use online platforms and resources extensively in planning where to travel to and also during their visit. The programme will help create positive first impressions and an improved booking experience, in line with the Northern Ireland 'Embrace A Giant Spirit' experience brand.

"We welcome applications from eligible businesses that want to enhance their digital presence as well as support the recovery and growth of the sector."

The Website Development Programme will be operated on a Northern Ireland wide basis through funding provided to Tourism NI from the Department for the Economy (DfE) and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) through its Rural Development Programme.

For full details of eligibility criteria and how to apply for the scheme are available at the Website Development Programme 2021-2022 page of the Tourism NI website.

Closing date for applications is 8th September at 3.00pm.

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