The London launch, which follows similar events in Belfast and Dublin, provides a platform for the year-long series of events and campaigns not only to attract tourists here, but to use the year 2012 to help change the image and perception of Northern Ireland.
Taking centre stage at this year’s ni2012 extravaganza will be the opening of the new iconic visitor attraction Titanic Belfast to coincide with the centenary of the liner’s fateful maiden voyage, along with a new state-of-the-art visitor centre situated at the stunning Giant’s Causeway on the Antrim coast.
First Minister, Peter Robinson said: “NI 2012 will be a memorable year of events that celebrates everything Northern Ireland has to offer as a place to live, work and visit.
"2012 will be a year of celebration for Northern Ireland and we want to share our country with as many people as possible. We have here a real opportunity to show what Northern Ireland has to offer in 2012 and beyond, and to spread the word that Northern Ireland is a truly remarkable tourist destination.
“Tourism has a key role to play in the economic development of Northern Ireland and we have placed its development at the heart of our draft Programme for Government.
“The Northern Ireland Executive has invested significantly in developing its tourism capabilities and 2012 is the year when all of that investment comes together to place Northern Ireland on the world stage as a visitor destination.
"This is an opportunity not to be missed and I would encourage everyone to get involved, be inspired and join in the spirit of 2012.”
A series of high profile events is also on the menu, including the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, MTV concerts and celebrations such as the 50th year of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.
Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “This is a unique opportunity for the north to showcase everything which is great about our place to a global audience. All of the events planned for this year have helped create a new sense of civic pride and more importantly offer compelling reasons for visitors to choose to visit.
“I believe the positive effects of this year’s events will last beyond the year itself and will also provide a great lead in to 2013 when my home and historic city of Derry plays host to the City of Culture and Belfast stages the World Police and Fire Games.
“The north of Ireland is an exciting place to visit and invest. We have so much to celebrate this year and with so many exciting events planned, there will never be a better opportunity for you to see us at our very best.”
Speaking at the launch, Arlene Foster said that NI2012 was set to become the biggest and best show that Northern Ireland will ever have the privilege to stage.
She continued: “From the opening of the iconic Titanic signature building to mark the centenary of the sinking of the famous ship which was born and bred in Belfast, through to the Peace One Day Concert featuring Jude Law and Massive Attack, the Circuit of Ireland rally, the Clipper round the World Yacht Race and the Belfast Festival at Queen to name but a few.
“As if that were not enough, we will now be hosting the Irish Open on the world class course at Royal Portrush – home to our famous golfers Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell and where Rory McIlroy still holds the course record.
“As you can see 2012 will be a year to remember for Northern Ireland. But it is just the beginning of a new era and I am confident that it will generate a lasting and positive legacy to take us confidently into the future.”
Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland’s chief executive, concluded: “Tourism Ireland firmly believes that we are on the cusp of one of the most exciting years ever for tourism to Northern Ireland. NI2012 is all about harnessing the unprecedented opportunity to confidently put Northern Ireland on the global stage in a completely new way, to capture and hold the focus of world attention for all the most positive reasons. The superb programme of new attractions, events and historic anniversaries taking place in 2012, and indeed in 2013, will stimulate interest in Northern Ireland and help define what makes it different and why overseas visitors should choose to come here.
“Tourism Ireland will use every opportunity to present Northern Ireland in a way that clearly differentiates it from our competitor destinations, capturing the essence of a holiday here and highlighting our strengths – iconic experiences, warm, friendly people and value for money. “
A host of names from the media and business world attended the event..
Notes to editors:
1. This project has been created by the NI2012 Stakeholder Group, chaired by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and led by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. It includes the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, a wide range of bodies in central and local government as well as representatives from the private sector.
2. Key events taking place:
April – May 2012
- Titanic Belfast Festival 2012 – A fusion of International-scale events including a range of plays, tours, talks, films and major musical events.
- Titanic Light Show – Lighting show at Titanic Belfast MTV Music Event – Major outdoor music event (TBC) Titanic : Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry – A verbatim play by Owen McCafferty
- Peace One Day Concert, Derry~Londonderry – International music concert marking the opening of London 2012 Festival and Paralympic Games Land of the Giants, Belfast – Unique tales on an epic scale of NI “Giants” including Gulliver, H&W, Titanic and the Giant’s Causeway A Coastal Installation by Deborah Warner, Derry~Londonderry – Major new living artwork co-commissioned by Derry-Londonderry Culture Company 2013 for the Cultural Olympiad Irish Open championship July 2012
- Clipper Round The World Yacht Race and Maritime Festival, Derry~Londonderry – The Clipper Round The World Yacht race homecoming leg, welcomed by a four day maritime festival to celebrate the visit of the world’s longest race
- BBC Titanic Proms, Belfast – Celebration through songs and music (TBC) Giant’s Causeway Visitor – Opening of new Visitor Centre
October – November 2012
- 50th Ulster Bank Festival at Queen’s, Belfast – Dance, music, theatre, visual arts, film, classical and world music.
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