07/03/2003

NI tourism industry celebrates silver awards

Around 380 members of the tourism industry and guests gathered last night in the Ramada Hotel, Belfast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards and to applaud the winners of the 2002 competition.

Reviewing the radical changes wrought during the last 25 years, NITB Chairman Tom McGrath described the event as a means of recognising and rewarding the efforts and achievements of the tourism sector.

Mr McGrath applauded “the commitment, dedication and achievements” of the province’s tourism professionals and congratulated all those shortlisted for an award.

This year’s silver anniversary saw a number of changes to the awards. Notably, reflecting the greater choice of accommodation on offer, this formerly single category was sub-divided to include three separate awards for Hotel of the Year, B&B/Guesthouse of the Year and Hostel/Self-catering Premises of the Year.

Also two new categories were introduced; the ICT Initiative of the Year (sponsored by Invest NI), and the Area Tourism Initiative of the Year.

The awards ceremony compared by TV presenters Paul Clark and Donna Trainor, followed a brief speech by Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Ian Pearson.

The awards were:
  • Visitor Attraction of the Year: W5 – Who,What,Where,When,Why, Belfast
  • Flavour of Northern Ireland: Arbutus Restaurant, Kilrea
  • ICT Initiative of the Year (Sponsored by Invest NI) Belmore Court Motel, Enniskillen
  • Hostelry of the Year: Harbour Bar & Lounge, Portrush
  • Event of the Year: Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Festival, Derry
  • Area tourism Initiative of the Year: Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust
  • Hostel/Self Catering Premises of the Year: Golfkeel Self-catering Cottages, Banbridge
  • B&B/Guesthouse of the Year: Grange Lodge Guest house, Dungannon
  • Hotel of the Year: Canal Court Hotel, Newry
  • Tourism Training Trust Training Awards (Large Company): Botanic Inns Ltd, Belfast
  • Tourism Training Trust Training Awards (Small Company): The Cuan, Strangford.
This year’s Chairman’s Award went to the Northern Ireland Milk Cup International Youth Football Tournament. This event established in 1983 attracts some 13,000 participants from all five continents and all six FIFA Confederations.

Among those gaining ‘Highly Commended’ status were Mount Stewart Visitor Facilities, Ards Penninsula, Gallery Restaurant, Le Chateau Guesthouse, Enniskillen and Scoffs Restaurant and Wine Bar, Enniskillen.

Surprisingly there were no commendations in the Hotel category due to fewer than expected entries in 2002.

(SP)

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