The Outdoor Tourism Partnership holds its first meeting

January 2024

The newly established Outdoor Tourism Partnership is part of the Embracing Outdoor Tourism framework to deliver a strategic, coordinated approach to the development, enhancement and promotion of outdoor adventure, activity and nature tourism in Northern Ireland. 

It heralds an ambition for strategic leadership and partnership amongst government departments, agencies, private and community stakeholders and a desire to harness the opportunity of working cohesively to position Northern Ireland as an outstanding sustainable outdoor tourism destination delivering the very best experiences for visitors, for the benefit of businesses, communities and environment. 

The Partnership held its first inaugural meeting in Dungannon, Co Tyrone. This partnership is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland, and is made up of representatives from the outdoor tourism sector, local authorities, national agencies and key stakeholders, who came together to discuss the future of outdoor tourism in Northern Ireland and plans for its enhancement and development. 

Tourism Northern Ireland has been working on `Embracing Outdoor Tourism’, a collaborative framework which aims to support the delivery of a strategic and coordinated approach to the promotion of outdoor adventure, activity and nature tourism in Northern Ireland. The framework creates a partnership structure for Tourism Northern Ireland to work with other public authorities and the tourism industry to shape and develop action plans to support and guide the industry to prepare for future success. A comprehensive overview of the framework was presented along with an explanation on how collaboration over the next five years can make it a reality. With the framework now nearing the implementation stage, two groups have been formed:

  • An Interdepartmental Working Group made up of key government departments who held their inaugural meeting on 30th January.
  • The Outdoor Tourism Partnership – which met on 31st January in Dungannon.

Eimear Callaghan, Head of Experience & Industry at Tourism Northern Ireland, provided an overview of the operational and strategic context for the Embracing Outdoor Tourism framework.  Maria McAlister, Interim Landscapes & Activities Tourism Manager presented an overview of the sector setting out priority projects that TNI will be progressing under the overarching Framework. The group were then guided through an exercise about their personal outdoor tourism experiences by Brendan Kenny, Chief Executive of Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism (IAAT). 

Established in 2018, Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism (IAAT) is the representative body for more than 250 adventure activity tourism operators on the island of Ireland. The organisation works with adventure tourism operators to develop the sector in a sustainable and responsible manner. The IAAT role of Secretariat of the Outdoor Tourism Partnership is coming out of this new partnership for outdoor tourism with Tourism NI.

The event ended with a Q&A session and a workshop.

Note: Tourism NI’s latest Customer Sentiment Research indicates `to relax and unwind and to have fun’ are key motivators for intended NI trips for both ROI and NI consumers. To access the Tourism NI Outdoor Experiences in Tourism toolkit, please click HERE. In addition to this TNI research, IAAT estimates adventure tourism makes up 30% of global tourism spend, equating to €683 billion.