New Member Spotlight: Maritime Belfast Trust

Kerrie Sweeney, CEO Maritime Belfast Trust shares why they have become a member of NITA.

Business Overview

Maritime Belfast Trust was established to preserve and promote Belfast’s Maritime heritage, the charity owns a number of assets, including the iconic Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, SS Nomadic and the Great Light. Our ambition is for a world class waterfront for the city and its people. In addition to our attractions portfolio, we deliver this through establishing strategic partnerships such as the Waterfront Task Group, experience development including the development of the Maritime Mile and public engagement through events, campaigns and annual programme of waterfront animations.  

Why did we join NITA?

Being a member of NITA has offered us lots of opportunities and benefits, we have gained access to a highly motivated network of industry professionals, encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing across a diverse sector of the tourism and travel industry.  The Alliance has also served as a valuable platform for staying informed about industry trends, market insights, and relevant developments. We had the opportunity to showcase the Maritime Mile initiative at the NITA conference in Autumn 2023, which opened the doors to some new partnership opportunities. 

Our NITA membership will not only help us to share our ambitions for a world class waterfront for Belfast but also contributes to the sustainable growth and success of the Northern Ireland tourism sector as a whole.

Key opportunities and key challenges to our business for 2024

At the end of last year, we launched ‘Embracing the Belfast Waterfront’, a framework for Belfast’s waterfront promenade. The framework sets out to build on our hundreds of years of maritime heritage and make Belfast one of the world’s great waterfront cities.

Along with our partners on the Waterfront Task Group, we believe this is a generational opportunity to reshape Belfast’s relationship with its waterfront and maximise the area’s potential to provide economic and social benefits for all of Northern Ireland. One of our city’s key strengths is our waterfront, but over half of the area remains to be regenerated. We are excited to work and develop the city’s 10km of waterfront as a connected, accessible urban blueway  through a series of short, medium and long term interventions. To do this we need all our partners, public, private and community sectors, to be part of and commit to the agreed vision, which must be formally integrated into future planning policies.  The key asset of our waterfront, is the river and we need a long term sustainable approach to realise the many recreational and leisure opportunities it could, if managed properly, unlock, whilst tackling one of the most significant challenges of our generation, climate change. 

Over the next year, a notable challenge for Maritime Belfast and the NI tourism sector, is the pressing issue of the cost-of-living crisis. Consumers have less disposable income; businesses have higher costs and our restored Executive is facing significant funding challenges. More than ever it is important to work in partnership and focus resources on those priorities that can yield the best return for everyone, and this must be a major focus for the new Tourism Strategy.  We look forward to working with our partners, including Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance, to inform, shape and deliver on these priorities.