The programme of investment
The BRCD partners have worked intensively to develop a Tourism and Regeneration programme that:
- supports the delivery of inclusive economic growth
- will create a regional, sustainable, year-round tourism product that will provide standout in international markets
- will play a key role in the recovery of the tourism industry and our town and city centres, following the devastating impact of Covid-19.
Given the unique history, natural environment and cultural heritage of the BRCD region, there is a real opportunity for a further step change in the visitor offering, building upon the significant success already achieved in terms of tourism growth.
We want visitors to stay longer and spend more, supporting existing tourism and hospitality businesses, creating new opportunities and regenerating our towns and cities.
We plan to do this by creating internationally visible tourism products that will extend the tourist route from Hillsborough to Belfast through Carrickfergus towards the breathtaking Causeway Coast and Glens and along the County Down coast to the majestic Mourne Mountains.
Regenerating our town and city centres will enhance the region’s attractiveness as a destination and reimagining our town and city centres into multifunctional business and social centres that encourage people to live, shop, work, use services and spend leisure time will enable them to bounce back from the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic.
Belfast Destination Hub
The Belfast Destination Hub is a transformational project designed to capture Belfast’s unique spirit. This major tourism anchor will help to revitalise our city centre and create a focal point for the screen industry, allowing people to connect with the city and one another through stories, screen and social spaces.
The ‘beating heart’ of the Hub is Belfast Stories, a visitor experience that will tell the remarkable first-person accounts of the city by the people who call it home. Stories spill out into every aspect of the Hub, including a state of the art multi-screen cultural cinema with the best visual storytelling from around the world. These attractions will be connected by dynamic architecture and vibrant public realm, allowing for lively event programming and conversation.
Gateway to the Mournes
The Mourne Mountains Gateway Project will redefine the visitor experience associated with the Mourne Mountains. The project will deliver a world-class visitor attraction and create improved and more sustainable access to Newcastle and the Mournes. The planned investment will support the sustainable growth of tourism in the Mournes, whilst protecting and enhancing the natural heritage and habitat of the region by creating an appealing year-round, sustainable tourism offering.
The Gateway Visitor Centre and new gondola ride will give visitors the opportunity to connect with nature’s rugged beauty, discover the secrets of the Mourne Mountains, and experience unobstructed views across Dundrum Bay, the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man.
The vision is to establish Hillsborough as a high quality, distinctive, leading visitor destination and experience, while also regenerating the village with an enhanced, sustainable culture and heritage offer - integrated with Northern Ireland’s wider regional heritage offering. Building on a heritage site, this investment at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens will further enhance the existing offer to create a world-class heritage village that extends dwell time and visitor spend. This project responds to the strong appetite for distinctive, immersive experiences that offer authentic expressions of culture.
‘Destination Royal Hillsborough’ will offer integrated and improved access and connections to key attractions such as the Castle, Courthouse, Fort, Forest, Gardens and wider village area. The various components will be part of an overall package that seamlessly connects these places of interest. By investing in further enhancements to Hillsborough Castle and Forest and the public realm, the project will deliver a must-see whole village tourism experience, enriching this landmark asset’s significant heritage tourism potential and offering.
The Gobbins Phase II
Offering unparalleled access to the Antrim Coast, the Gobbins is already an authentic visitor attraction that connects people to the landscape and immerses them in the environment. Building on this, Belfast Region City Deal investment aims to deliver an exhilarating visitor attraction by adding a spectacular viewing platform and staircase to offer a circular three-mile journey incorporating the cliff face and clifftop paths and significantly increasing capacity on the coastal pathway.
A new ‘Welcome Hub’ and digitally enhanced Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences will create an exhilarating, accessible, must-see visitor attraction at the southern end of the Causeway Coastal route.
Home to one of the most impressive castles on the island, an historic harbour, a stunning Norman church, impressive sections of medieval walls and one of the best series of stories and sagas in the region, the historic, lough-side town of Carrickfergus has much to celebrate. Already benefiting from close proximity to Belfast, further investment will regenerate, reposition and rebrand the town to place it firmly on the map as an authentic heritage-led tourism hub and the ‘must-visit’ starting point of the internationally recognised Causeway Coastal Route.
The planned investment includes major investments in the Castle, the historic walls, the town centre and surrounding environment. High quality public realm works will enhance the castle setting and reconnect the castle to the town centre, enabling residents and visitors to experience all that Carrickfergus has to offer.
Bangor waterfront regeneration
Bangor Waterfront will be revitalised to offer a series of new sustainable tourism and leisure attractions and experiences that will reconnect the town and sea. The investment will regenerate a two-mile stretch of the waterfront promenade from Ballyholme Beach to Bangor town centre, creating a seaside destination of choice.
Providing high quality public space and developing existing assets like Bangor Marina and Ballyholme Yacht Club, will enhance the town’s appeal as a place to live, work, study and visit. This series of developments and experiences will seamlessly connect the waterfront to the rest of the town and provide a wide range of opportunities for residents, visitors and businesses.
The i4C Innovation Centre at St Patrick’s Barracks
The Belfast Region City Deal will help deliver new models of regeneration, such as the innovation-led regeneration of the St Patrick’s site in Ballymena, which seeks to integrate digital innovation with the drive towards a low carbon economy.
The 15 hectare mixed regeneration site situated in the heart of the town will act as a catalyst and enabler of inclusive growth in Ballymena and the wider borough. i4C will be the anchor tenant, building a key economic driver for future growth and allowing local communities to benefit from skills and employability opportunities.
Newry city centre regeneration
BRCD investment in Newry city centre will stimulate regeneration and economic growth through the delivery of a civic hub, theatre and conferencing facilities, improvements to the public realm and investment in Grade A office provision. The project aims to revitalise the area, improve the experience for residents, visitors and established businesses, while stimulating business growth and job creation through the attraction of private sector investment in key growth sectors.
It is expected that this investment will create a thriving city centre, secure new jobs across a range of sectors, encourage greater numbers of visitors to Newry and help stimulate the night time economy; unlocking the city’s potential so that it can support economic growth across the district and wider region.