About Us

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 Northern Ireland tourism and hospitality industry has a crucial role in driving growth and profitability so NITA’s role is to speak with the necessary authority as the single representative body for tourism and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.

NITA membership currently includes, Accommodation Providers; Food & Drink Industry Associations; Regional Tourism Partnerships; Major Tourist Attractions; Tour Guides; Passenger Transport; Airports; Ports; Airlines, and Local Authorities.

The Role

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. It will:

  • 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

In its first 12 months, NITA has 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; responded to the Department of Communities consultation on the Sale and Supply of Alcoholic Drinks as Special Events in NI.

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, who was previously Director of Development at Catalyst, joined NITA in March 2019.

A former Chairman of the IoD NI, Joanne is a highly experienced and well-regarded business leader whose responsibilities in her most recent post, notably included the creation and expansion of important strategic relationships.

From 2011 to 2016, she was the Northern Ireland Champion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) with a focus on encouraging more young people to study the STEM subjects and to consider careers within industry.

Since 2010, she has been the NI Chair of the US-NI Mentorship Programme, established by former Economic US envoy to NI Declan Kelly. This provides 12 month paid placements for Northern Irish domiciled graduates with global corporations within the US. Over 100 placements have been provided by the programme.

Joanne is sits on a number of charity boards including The Irish Times Trust, Council of Ulster University, Tides Training and Wallace High School Board of Governors.


Board Members

Chair

Brenda Morgan

British Airways

Brenda Morgan

British Airways

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

Brenda’s role extends to growing the domestic and international market for British Airways and their partners, American Airlines, Iberia, and Jal, as well as managing relationships with both the public and private sectors. In addition, Brenda manages several key trade partnerships in Dublin and is responsible for negotiating corporate agreements within the marketplace and working with key stakeholders within the travel and tourism industry.

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

David Jackson

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

David Jackson

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

David Jackson took up his appointment as the Clerk and Chief Executive of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in April 2014. He was previously a management consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an Army officer and a civil engineer.