Belfast is a city transformed and building strong links and sharing learning with Dublin and London – two cities that are the most politically and economically important to Belfast – is crucial if progress is to be sustained.
That was the key message from Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir today as he welcomed his Dublin counterpart, Oisin Quinn, to the City Hall - and revealed that he will be meeting London Mayor Boris Johnson within the next fortnight.
During a packed itinerary, Lord Mayor Quinn met Belfast City Council officials to discuss projects of mutual interest before visiting An Culturlann, Titanic Quarter, Titanic Belfast and touring East Belfast where he met local politicians and community leaders.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast said, “In March, a cross party delegation from Belfast was greeted at the Mansion House in Dublin by then Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Clare Byrne. We were made very welcome and were most impressed at the work going on in the city as we visited Dublin Convention Centre, the city’s Digital Hub and the Waterways Ireland Visitors Centre.
“The visit was related to the council’s £150 million investment programme and we were keen to learn from the Dublin experience. In return, we invited Lord Mayor Quinn to visit our city as he expressed interest in Belfast’s regeneration of Titanic Quarter and has a keen interest in the way we have positioned ourselves as a major location for the production of movies and major television productions.
“In recent years, Belfast has been transformed and this is reflected in the fact that tourist visitors to the city continues to grow, with the south of Ireland and Great Britain being important markets for us.
“Working together to attract tourists and investment to our island and exploring other mutually beneficial initiatives is positive and a sensible course of action and I look forward to exploring similar opportunities with the Lord Mayor of London when I meet him next week.”
The latest figures from the Tourism Monitor in 2012 show that the Republic of Ireland continues to be the dominant market in Belfast tourism, accounting for 73 per cent of all out-of-state trips to Belfast, including day trips and overnight stays – generating 1.7 million bed nights and a spend of £70 million.
Great Britain accounts for a further 22 per cent of all day and overnight trips, generating a total of 1.8 million bed nights and a spend of £105 million.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”