13 Jun

ABTA, ANITA and NITA highlight the value of outbound travel to Northern Ireland’s ministers

ABTA – The Travel Association, together with partners from Northern Ireland, has held constructive discussions with Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive Office on the importance of outbound travel and tourism to the Northern Ireland economy, and in ensuring the sector has clearer lines of ministerial responsibility within the Executive.

Mark Tanzer and Luke Petherbridge of ABTA joined Damian Murphy, Chair of ANITA (Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents) and Judith Owens, Chair of NITA (Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance) in meeting with Ministers, Aisling Reilly (Sinn Fein) and Pam Cameron (DUP).

As well as the important economic and employment contribution which outbound travel and tourism provides to the province, the wide-ranging discussions covered workforce and skills issues, UK-EU relations, and how the industry can work with the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure the sector prospers.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association, said: 

“We were pleased to secure this meeting on behalf of our members, and it was a useful opportunity to discuss the powerful role that outbound travel plays in the economy of Northern Ireland, as well as the close links we share with the wider tourism sector. In particular, we stressed the need for clearer lines of ministerial responsibility for outbound travel. 

“We’ll continue to work with Ministers, MLAs across all parties, and officials, to ensure the views of the industry in Northern Ireland are heard and that we can work together to maximise the potential of the sector.” 

Damian Murphy, Chair of ANITA, said:

 “The experience of the sector during the pandemic demonstrated the need for better understanding of travel’s importance in the Executive, which is why ANITA was established. 

“Working with ABTA and industry partners we’ve been able to be secure this meeting with Ministers, and it’s important we now build on that by maintaining regular engagement with politicians and officials locally – not only from ABTA and ANITA, but also by individual businesses engaging with their local politicians.” 

Judith Owens, Chair of NITA, added: 

“NITA was established to promote the value of all tourism to the economy of Northern Ireland, and to provide a much-needed united voice. I was pleased to be able to support the points around the value of outbound travel today, as well as to discuss vitally important issues for all tourism businesses, including those operating domestically and inbound too”

The meeting was able to take place despite the General Election campaign, as purdah rules do not apply to the Northern Ireland Executive during elections to Westminster.