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‘Inspirational’ Tourism Excellence Programme now open for new applications

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s successful Tourism Excellence Programme is now open for new applications.

Described by previous participants as an ‘open door of opportunity’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘motivational’, the funded programme provides expert guidance to generate renewed growth within the area’s tourism business sector.

Initially introduced in December 2020 as part of the Council’s COVID response, it has already helped 19 different trade members including local producers, accommodation providers and visitor experience operators.

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Encouraging prospective applicants to get involved, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Richard Holmes said: “While the Tourism Team has been proactive in offering targeted training courses over the years, the Tourism Excellence Programme is the first time it has offered one-to-one mentoring alongside workshops, and this approach has been very well received.

Pictured at the launch of the third round of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Tourism Excellence Programme are Destination Manager Kerrie McGonigle, the Mayor, Councillor Richard Holmes, and Economic Development Officer Louise Pollock

“The programme facilitators will help with a digital audit, brand and content development and business strategy, while some participants have benefited from the production of short promotional videos and professional photography to help set them apart.

“Staycations within Northern Ireland, from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain have underpinned our economy in recent times and we are delighted to see a gradual return of international visitors as well. This is a wonderful opportunity to help further develop our Borough’s tourism business and grow our visitor economy.

“As we launch round three of the Tourism Excellence Programme, I would encourage eligible businesses to seize this opportunity and avail of this free expert guidance to identify new target markets which will lead to greater development and sustainability.”

Reflecting on how the programme has assisted her business, Geri Martin from The Chocolate Manor said: “The one-to-one mentoring really helped us to identify a realistic and achievable strategy as we emerge from COVID. The programme provided practical support with tangible outcomes that instantly made an impact on our business. The expertise of the delivery team is extensive, and every element of the programme has been so beneficial.”

Richard Connor from Causeway Boats, which has been in operation for over 20 years, said: “We found the digital audits and mentoring refreshing. We applied the skills we learned to our social media and the action plan focused us on areas of growth and trends which we have capitalised on. This has resulted in an extra staff member being brought onboard for the 2021 season and new bookings as well.”

The Tourism Excellence Programme (TEP) is a joint initiative, delivered through Council’s Alchemy business mentoring programme and part-funded by the Tourism department, Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.

The Tourism Excellence Programme has a competitive application process and anyone wishing to find out more can email [email protected]

Access guidance notes, programme content, and complete the application form on the website by going to https://www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/work/tourism-trade-support/tourism-excellence-programme

The programme will remain open for applications until 5pm on Monday, June 13.

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Cabaret on the Coast night