The Rising Tide of Innovation In Tourism

The Rising Tide of Innovation In Tourism

Tourism is one of Northern Ireland’s most important economic sectors and key to dispersing wealth right across Northern Ireland, contributing an annual tourism expenditure of more than £1 billion in 2019 and supporting approximately 71,000 jobs across the region, the director of strategic development for Tourism Northern Ireland, David Roberts has told LCN

“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do in tourism. Our industry of entrepreneurs and creatives across Northern Ireland are constantly creating new tourism experiences which aim to delight and inspire our visitors. Our innovative spirit was evident during the pandemic when tourism and hospitality was the first industry to close and the last to reopen. The industry innovated to create new survival techniques to make it through the pandemic’s uncharted waters with many moving operations online and creating virtual experiences. 

The tourism industry has always been driven by a quest for new experiences, destinations and ways to create amazing visitor experiences. However, in recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in innovation within the tourism sector and in order for it to grow beyond pre-pandemic levels and contribute to all aspects of society, the tourism industry needs to have innovation at its core if we are to compete on the world stage. 

There are a number of key areas in which businesses within the tourism industry can look to make innovative change for their betterment including advancements in technology, novel approaches in sustainability and immersive experiences. 

To support tourism businesses across Northern Ireland in adopting an innovation-first mindset, Tourism NI in partnership with Innovate NI held a series of interactive ‘Innovate Tourism’ workshops, demonstrating how innovation is key to business growth, whilst also increasing awareness and knowledge about what innovation means in a tourism context. Those in attendance at the workshops held across various towns and cities in NI, received an introduction to the Innovation Fundamentals of the Innovate NI Framework through immersive, hands-on activities and support to effectively recognise and capture innovative work and achieve innovative recognition. Designed to support businesses to embed innovation structures and processes in their businesses, the workshops gave access to experts and instilled an innovation process which took the business from ideation, to selection, to testing to commercialisation, saving money and making businesses more productive and sustainable in the long run.


We understand the need for practical and tangible takeaways and so those who attended the workshops acquired the skills and methods required to optimise their current offers and transform their business into an innovation powerhouse. A number of ideas have been generated from these sessions and are due to take part in a follow up session in March 2024, which will see them properly implemented within the business.

At Tourism NI, we will build on our culture of innovation and creativity to deliver positive change and will pursue excellence and world class ideas to make our industry more competitive and sustainable. Having a focus on innovation will increase incomes, improve productivity levels, provide opportunities for all our people, create a net zero economy and showcase our brilliance both locally and globally.”