When we launched the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance we proudly proclaimed ourselves the new, united voice of our industry … a single, strong entity perfectly positioned to push tourism higher up the Government agenda, and create a more favourable climate in which we can all grow and succeed.
So here we are, with an influential, representative and fast growing membership.
We may have labelled ourselves ‘the voice’ of our sector, but we’re already demonstrating that we aren’t just ‘all talk’.
We have just published our first significant piece of work – our formal response to the Government consultation process on the issues of VAT, Air Passenger Duty (APD) and tourism in Northern Ireland – and we are currently planning an important workshop, to be followed by a series of equally impactful initiatives.
All good so far, but this is where the hard work starts … for each and every one of us. We all need to speak out and speak up for tourism, taking every opportunity to promulgate our shared concerns and aspirations.
I know that’s a big ask from people who are already working incredibly hard in an industry where long and anti-social hours are the accepted norm, but if we don’t do it, who will? When I say ‘we’ I don’t just mean the members of the Board, I mean everyone who is behind the organisation. Your voice matters and your positive influence will help all of us to raise awareness of NITA and the sector it represents.
As Chair, I’m asking you to create opportunities to make the NITA voice heard. Talk about the organisation and the sector … write about it … use your social media outlets … get talking and get other people talking too!
Of course there will inevitably be a variety of views, but I for one feel that there is real value in airing and sharing even diverse opinions, for all such discussion helps bring tourism centre stage. At our core we are united in wanting the best for our sector and committed to identifying and adopting best practices, so we need not fear stirring debate.
Tourism in Northern Ireland is ready to break the billion pound barrier – indeed some say we’re already there – but we need to recognise this landmark achievement as just the starting point for an industry with huge growth potential. To fulfil that potential we’ll have to raise our game as well as our voice. NITA will undoubtedly help us to achieve those goals, and ‘to belong is to be strong’.
This is your organisation. Make it work for you and for all of us.
Regards, Brenda Morgan (NITA Chairman)