About Us

The Voice for Tourism in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance (NITA) was founded in January 2018 as a private-sector-led ‘voice’ of the Tourism Industry in Northern Ireland. The Alliance provides a new, united and single voice for the sector it represents – and is the first (and only) organisation which represents the entire tourism industry.

NITA - The Voice for Tourism


The Tourism Economy Key Facts

  • ~3 million tourists visit Northern Ireland annually
  • Visitor spend contributes in excess of £1 billion to the economy
  • Export driven - 70% of spend by visitors from outside of Northern Ireland
  • Supports over 65,000 jobs
  • Regional benefit
    • 60% visitor spend is outside of Belfast
    • 70% jobs located outside of Belfast
  • Ambition to double economic impact and create 25,000 jobs

    The Role

    NITA’s role, as the single representative body for the tourism economy in Northern Ireland, is to represent our members and ensure the voice of the tourism economy is listened to, to shape the future growth of tourism and lobbying at all levels of government and beyond to raise awareness of and contributing to the solution of major strategic issues affecting the industry, which include everything from the UK’s exit from the European Union, the impact of APD, VAT, Skills development and the ongoing uncertainty of the economic climate to the industry’s overall competitiveness.

    • Push tourism higher up the Government agenda
    • Lobby to create a favourable operating environment for all those involved in tourism delivery
    • Champion and help shape the future growth of tourism
    • Encourage wider awareness of the economic value of tourism
    • Facilitate ease and speed of communication between the industry and Government / key influencers
    • Address major strategic issues which will include everything from the UK’s exit from the European Union and the ongoing uncertainty of the economic climate to the industry’s overall competitiveness
    • Develop research and evidence based positions on the value of tourism to N.I. and on current key issues such as:
      • Publication of draft Tourism Strategy for N.I.
      • Campaign for resources to support tourism businesses and a capital programme to support investment in visitor facilities.
      • Reform of licensing regulations

    Actions

    NITA responded to the following consultations (all of which can be accessed HERE)

    • Submitted a formal response, drawn up by Oxford Economics, to the UK Government consultation process on the issues of VAT, Air Passenger Duty (APD) and tourism in Northern Ireland
    • Submitted written and oral evidence to the NI Affairs Committee inquiry into Tourism in NI
    • Submitted written evidence to the Department of Communities consultation on the Sale and Supply of Alcoholic Drinks as Special Events in NI.
    • Submitted written and oral evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee
    • Submitted written response to the Department of Communities consultation on changing Liquor Licensing legislation

    Our People

    The Board of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance will be led by the well-known and industry-respected face of British Airways in Northern Ireland, Brenda Morgan MBE.

    CEO

    Joanne Stuart

    NI Tourism Alliance

    Joanne Stuart

    NI Tourism Alliance

    Dr Joanne Stuart OBE joined NITA in March 2019. A former Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland, Joanne is a highly experienced and well-regarded business leader.

    Joanne is part of the Tourism Recovery Steering Group, established by the NI Minister for the Economy and represents the NI Tourism Industry on the UK Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group and the UK Tourism Industry Council. Outside of NITA, Joanne is a member of a number of charity boards including The Irish Times Trust, Council of Ulster University and Wallace High School Board of Governors.

    NITA’s role, as the single representative body for the tourism industry in Northern Ireland, is to represent our members and ensure the voice of industry is listened to, to shape the future growth of tourism and lobbying at all levels of government and beyond to raise awareness of and contribute to the solution of major strategic issues affecting the industry.

    These currently include securing the future of tourism in the Covid-19 environment, navigating the best course for Tourism as we face the end of the EU Exit transition period and lobbying for the abolishment of APD and extending the reduction in VAT on Tourism Services for another 12 months.




    Board Members

    Chair

    Brenda Morgan MBE, Chair

    NI Tourism Alliance

    Brenda Morgan MBE, Chair

    NI Tourism Alliance

    Brenda Morgan MBE joined British Airways in June 2012 and as the Key Partnership Manager, responsible for managing British Airways’ trade, corporate and industry relationships in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

    Brenda has over 27 years’ experience in the airline industry, previously working with BMI as Ireland Sales Manager. Brenda currently is Chair of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance and sat on the council for the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Brenda was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for services to the economy in Northern Ireland.

    Vice Chair

    Don Wilmont

    Visit Derry

    Don Wilmont

    Visit Derry

    Don Wilmont has worked at a senior management level in the tourism sector for over 40 years. He has very extensive experience of both the public and private sectors having worked on a very broad range of contracts and projects.

    Having worked at Chief Officer level in local Government, he presently operates his own consultancy, and latterly was Chief Executive of the Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership. He is currently the Executive Chairman of the Board of Visit Derry.

    Board Member

    Janice Gault

    NI Hotels Federation

    Janice Gault

    NI Hotels Federation

    Janice Gault is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin holding a BA Hons and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management.

    She began her career in the handicapped services in Dublin before moving into industry holding a variety of roles in manufacturing eventually specialising in the commercial and customer service areas.

    Originally from Londonderry, she returned to the province in 1995 working with John Cleland & Son, a large carton manufacturer and M&S supplier. Her next role was as the marketing director at Odyssey where she was part of the launch team for Northern Ireland’s landmark Millennium Project.

    Janice took up the role of Chief Executive with the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation in 2002 and sits on a variety of boards representing the hotel sector. Her role is to represent the hotel sector and ensure their needs are addressed within the civic and political forum.

    A keen traveller her hobbies include literature, water sports and travel.

    Board Member

    Karen Magill

    Federation of Passenger Transport

    Karen Magill

    Federation of Passenger Transport

    Karen Magill is married and has two daughters. Karen is a Management Accountant and has worked in industry locally and internationally for over 30 years specialising in finance and general management. She has worked with companies of various sizes from SME’s to larger organisations.

    

Internationally, Karen has worked on a number of projects for Centrehouse International in countries such as Europe USA and the Far East. Locally, Karen became a mentor for the Business in the Community Scheme which matches small businesses to business leaders according to skills and expertise. It was through this work that she became involved in the passenger transport industry. 

Karen is currently the Chief Executive of the Federation of Passenger Transport N.I. Ltd., a position which she has held for some sixteen years.

    The Federation is a not for profit organisation representing the Northern Ireland’s leading bus and coach operators and industry suppliers. Its main priorities are to improve passenger safety, promote the passenger transport industry and increase and to promote the coach tourism industry.

    Board Member

    Anne McMullan

    Visit Belfast

    Anne McMullan

    Visit Belfast

    Anne McMullan is the Senior Director at Visit Belfast, heading up the Marketing, Communications and Commercial Partnership Department.

    Having joined Visit Belfast in 2008, her responsibilities include the development and execution of city marketing campaigns in the Island of Ireland, Great Britain and Europe; the delivery of Visit Belfast’s business plans, engaging with local and international media; and the development of the agency’s commercial and partnership platforms.

    With 25 years marketing communications experience, Anne was previously Head of Business Tourism Marketing at National Museums NI.

    Anne also sits on the Board of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce and is passionate about the renaissance of Belfast as a vibrant visitor destination.

    Board Member

    Ellie McGimpsey

    Belfast City Airport

    Ellie McGimpsey

    Belfast City Airport

    Aviation Development Manager at Belfast City Airport, Ellie McGimpsey has responsibility for sustaining and growing the airport’s aviation business. Her focus is on attracting new routes and bringing new airlines into Northern Ireland, to the benefit of the whole business community and tourism sector.

    The breadth of her role, spanning strategy, business development, sales, marketing and PR, commercial negotiations and aviation and economic policy, keeps her engaged at every level of the business and within the business community of Northern Ireland.

    Ellie is a member of the CBI NI’s Future Leaders’ Network and Visit Belfast’s Business Development Task Force and a former Chair and Board Member of the Oh Yeah Music Centre. Ellie lives in Bangor with her young family, and is a graduate of the University of Bath.

    Board Member

    Colin Neill

    Hospitality Ulster

    Colin Neill

    Hospitality Ulster

    Colin Neill joined Hospitality Ulster (the representative body of Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry) as Chief Executive in August 2008, representing an industry that sustains over 60,000 jobs and contributes in excess of £1BM annually to the NI economy.

    In addition to the day to day operations of Hospitality Ulster Colin is also responsible for the industries’ strategic lobby and spends a significant amount of time engaging with senior politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster.

    Colin is currently a Board member of Tourism Northern Ireland and Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee.

    Colin holds an MBA from the Ulster University.

    Board Member

    Judith Owens

    Titantic Belfast

    Judith Owens

    Titantic Belfast

    Judith Owens is CEO at TBL International Ltd, parent company to the award- winning Titanic Belfast, SS Nomadic and the Titanic Exhibition Centre. With experience spanning nearly three decades, Judith is one of UK’s the most experienced and established operations management professionals.

    Judith has an exceptional track record in the tourism, events and media industries. Titanic Belfast has gone from strength to strength under her leadership, welcoming close to 5 million visitors from over 145 countries and winning World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious 2016 World Travel Awards. Judith has also played a fundamental role in the business’ commercial development to include the operation of SS Nomadic (April 2015) and the Titanic Exhibition Centre (September 2015).

    Judith currently serves as a board member of Visit Belfast, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, and the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.

    Board Member

    Rainer Pagel

    Tour Guides NI

    Rainer Pagel

    Tour Guides NI

    Rainer Pagel is a German National who came to Northern Ireland in 1971 and made his career in Community Development. He is a grandfather of two teenagers and lives in Belfast. He has a keen interest in tourism development and the visual Arts and is a practising performance artist – time allowing!

    His employment history ranges from coordinating a neighbourhood based urban community development organisation to leading the principal Northern Ireland charity for young people with disabilities, via working as Head of Training and Deputy Director for 16 years for NICVA, Northern Ireland’s umbrella body for the voluntary and community sectors and managing a European Peace Project in Co Armagh for three years. In 2013, Rainer joined Production Services Ireland, Ireland’s premier lighting and audio production business as its Head of Training.

    Rainer has also worked extensively as management and organisational development consultant in Poland, Bulgaria, Portugal, and USA, and was a founder member and first president of the European Third Sector Training Network, based in Brussels. He has written a wide range of training manuals and materials and published a fundraising handbook for Central and Eastern European NGOs. He has organised and given papers at international conferences on issues of community development, youth work, training and management for voluntary sector organisations.

    Rainer has represented the voluntary, youth and community sectors on a large number of committees and working groups, and has chaired the Belfast Traveller Sites Project, the NI Education and Training Consortium, the UK Steering Group for NVQs in Community Development, and a local arts group. Further past engagements were as treasurer of YouthNet and Board member of Playboard. In 2013, he was invited to join the Northern Ireland committee of Arthritis Care NI and became its chair in 2017.

    Rainer enjoys guiding for German tourists and joined the committee of TourGuidesNI in 2016, taking on the role of Treasurer. His key interest in tourism is to establish a professional training framework for tour guides to guarantee the best possible experience for visitors to Northern Ireland.

    Board Observers

    Board Observer

    Terence Brannigan

    Tourism NI

    Terence Brannigan

    Tourism NI

    Appointed Chairman of Tourism Northern Ireland in April 2015, Terence is also the current Chairman of the Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation (MLKDC). MLKDC is responsible for the regeneration and development of a site which, at 347 acres, is twice the size of Titanic Quarter and four times the size of Canary Wharf.

    He is Chairman of Ashfield Solutions, Chairman of BrandBlack Ltd, a Board member of Co-operation Ireland, a Visiting Professor attached to the Business Institute, Ulster Business School at the University of Ulster, founder and former CEO of Connected Health Limited, a former Chairman of the CBI in Northern Ireland and was the founder and CEO of resource™, one of Northern Ireland’s largest private sector employers.

    Terence is also a former Director at Compass Group which, with a market capitalisation of over £23Bn, is currently number 23 in the FTSE 100.

    Terence is married to Sharon and has a daughter, Kathryn, and two sons, Rhauri and Fionnbharr.

    Board Observer

    Shane Clarke

    Tourism Ireland

    Shane Clarke

    Tourism Ireland

    Shane Clarke is the Director of Corporate Services, Policy and Northern Ireland at Tourism Ireland. He previously worked with Maguire & Paterson Sales & Marketing Limited as Managing Director. Prior to that, he was Chief Financial Officer at ConocoPhillips Ireland. He also held a number of senior Commercial and Financial roles during his 15 years at Diageo.

    At Tourism Ireland he is responsible for Corporate & Industry Communications, Information & Communications Technology, Finance and Human Resources. Shane has an extensive background in policy, tourism, and corporate governance with experience in both public and private sectors.

    Board Observer

    Luke Petherbridge

    ABTA The Travel Association

    Luke Petherbridge

    ABTA The Travel Association

    Luke Petherbridge is Senior Public Affairs Manager at ABTA – The UK’s largest travel trade association. Luke joined ABTA in July 2011, initially to focus on the association’s European policy portfolio and the revision of the EU Package Travel Directive, in particular. Luke is now the day-to-day lead of ABTA’s public affairs and policy agenda, in the UK and Europe, and is also actively involved with the Tourism Alliance (UK wide) in London.

    Board Observer

    Ms Jacqui Dixon

    SOLACE

    Ms Jacqui Dixon

    SOLACE

    Jacqui Dixon is the Chief Executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council and Chair of SOLACE