The programme of investment
Given the unique history, natural environment and cultural heritage of the region, there is a real opportunity for a further step change in the tourism offering. Building upon the significant success already achieved in tourism growth and in external validation (for example, the Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route was named the Lonely Planet’s number one destination in 2018).
We want visitors to stay longer and spend more regenerating our towns and cities. We plan to do this by creating internationally visible tourism products that will extend the tourist route from Belfast through Carrickfergus, towards the breathtaking Causeway Coast and Glens along North Down and into the majestic Mourne Mountains. If the Belfast Region is to achieve its potential, it is also vital that investment is directed towards towns which have suffered from industrial decline and economic restructuring, so that they have the opportunity to play a full part in the region’s growth. Supporting major regeneration projects will help to transform the economic potential of key towns across the region.
Belfast Story Destination Hub
Located in Belfast city centre, this unique international attraction will invite you to explore the many stories of the city and its people through an immersive, multi-gallery experience. The galleries will draw on the full range of interpretive techniques, using a combination of multi-media technologies and selected objects to reveal histories, personal secrets and fascinating facts about Belfast.
This attraction will be the centrepiece in a major, multi-venue cultural destination where locals meet and Belfast connects with its international visitors. As well as the Belfast Story, the experience will include a large scale exhibition space and cafés, restaurants and retail outlets appropriate to the nature and content of the attraction. It will be of landmark architectural quality, with attractive covered outdoor areas.
Gateway to the Mournes
An initiative aimed at redefining the visitor destination experience associated with the Mourne Mountains and the coastline, enhancing access to Newcastle town, the Mourne Mountains, foothills and forests.
The project will develop the tourism infrastructure at a number of sites to provide a unique and unforgettable experience inspired by the Mourne Mountains, including a new signature visitor experience at the Thomas Quarry and a gondola ride.
This exciting project will draw on the natural and built heritage of the area to attract a greater number of local, domestic and out of state visitors.
Hillsborough Castle and Heritage Village
The proposed investment aims to unlock and further enhance the significant tourism potential of this landmark asset. The project will create a world-class heritage attraction, encouraging greater movement and connectivity between attractions by developing Hillsborough Forest, restoring and developing Hillsborough courthouse and fort, developing a new magic garden in Hillsborough Castle and investing in public realms.
It is anticipated that this exciting project will not only enhance the tourism offering and increase the number of visitors, but also increase spend in the local economy and create new jobs in the area.
Gobbins Phase II
The extension of the Gobbins Cliff and Coastal Path to Heddles Port, doubling the length to 1.5 miles. It will also deliver a new adventure experience, similar to models in Cheddar Gorge and the Lake District.
This project is aimed at re-establishing the Gobbins coastal walkway using the existing path and the rock ledges with new light ‘roped bridge’ and other high adventure type structures to cross gullies and crevices. This will aim to secure the site as a sustainable and viable attraction, increase overnight stays and out of state visitors and leverage additional investment into the overall visitor experience.
A programme of investment to regenerate, reposition and rebrand the town of Carrickfergus, placing it firmly on the map as an authentic heritage-led tourism hub, part of the wider Belfast Story and the ‘must visit’ starting point to the internationally recognised Causeway Coastal Route.
This will include the development of the castle, walls and surrounding environment as a world class heritage site and visitor attraction, high quality public realm works enhancing the castle setting, facilitating access to the town centre and creating a venue for residents and visitors.
Bangor waterfront regeneration
A scheme which will regenerate a three mile stretch of coast from Ballyholme Beach to Bangor town centre, marina and waterfront, creating a seaside destination of choice.
Key elements of the scheme include the redevelopment of Bangor marina, development of a ‘Bangor by the Sea’ attraction, new greenways and coastal paths linking people, place and sea, reimaging Ballyholme Beach and creating new artwork and public realm.
Not only will this work enhance the attractiveness of the area and support wider regeneration, but it will create a new destination encouraging more visitors and residents to enjoy the captivating coastline in new and different ways.
St Patrick’s Barracks regeneration
The first phase of this innovation led regeneration scheme will enable the development of a new generation science park on a key site in the borough. The proposed Integrated Industrial Inspiration and Innovation Campus, i4C, will be developed on a former military site adjoining a number of areas of deprivation in Ballymena.
Investment in city centre regeneration, including a new theatre and conference facility, Grade A office development and public realm. This project aims to stimulate private sector investment to create a thriving city centre, secure new jobs across a range of sectors, encourage greater numbers of visitors to Newry and revitalise the night time economy.