The prestigious and much-coveted Northern Ireland Travel Agent of the Year award this year went to Limavady Travel.
This year, the NI Tourism Industry Award went to Wilma Erskine. With 34 years hard work and dedication, the farmer’s daughter from Ballymoney has successfully navigated the golfing waters to bring The Open Championship back to Royal Portrush after a 60 year absence.
Her unique contribution to the tourism industry in Northern Ireland and the way she has given visitors to Royal Portrush an experience they will never forget makes both her famous moniker ‘The Boss’ and her award well deserved.
Royal Portrush Golf Club and the Open itself took home the Northern Ireland Special Achievement Award, a very well-deserved accolade. The small town of Portrush normally has a population count of just 7,000 people, yet during the course of the Open it was visited by over 250,000 people. Over eight days (four days of competition and four practice days) almost 240,000 spectators descended on the small seaside town on the North Coast after the Open returned to Portrush after a 68 year hiatus.
A lot of work went into the course and infrastructure on the North Coast. With £17 million spent on the town, Portrush has never looked better. And with two more Open Championships guaranteed, the wider and long-term benefit to tourism in Northern Ireland is almost immeasurable.
Following on… the Best NI Visitor Attraction was awarded to Titanic Belfast.
With almost 45 years of service in the aviation sector under his belt, the winner of this year’s Travel Industry Award is a force to be reckoned with. Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport Brian Ambrose has been at the helm of George Best Belfast City Airport during some of its most successful and controversial times and he was recognised for his achievements in the 2010 Queens’ New Years Honours where he received an OBE for Services to the Aviation Industry.
Continuing to exceed the expectations of his customers is a key long term goal for Brian and he and his team are constantly aiming to set new standards within the industry. It was no wonder that last month George Best Belfast City Airport was named “Airport of the Year’ at the Aviation Industry Awards Europe, topping the public poll ahead of Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Heathrow Airport.
This year’s addition to the Travel Industry Roll of Honour is a lady many here are proud to call friend. Lynda McCorry started her career in travel with Servisair at Aldergrove 1971 as a ground handler for anything that could fly. It was a varied and demanding job. Enticed by the new Tristars aircraft, the prospect of adventure, lots of money and being treated like royalty, she joined Gulf Air in 1975 and relocated to Bahrain.
She was fortunate to visit many parts of the Middle East and beyond during her time with the airline, but the call to return home was strong and in 1980 she returned to Northern Ireland where she joined the British Midland ground team at Aldergrove.
After many management changes and buyouts she then went on to form her own representation company with Thriftway and several others on her books before taking up her role with Silversea Cruises – and as the saying goes, the rest is history!
British Airways were awarded the Northern Ireland Travel Special Award 2019 in recognition of their 100 year anniversary.
The new award this year – for the Best River Cruise Line – recognising the growing popularity of the river cruise market was awarded to Riviera Cruises. European river cruises now make up around 90 per cent of all river cruise bookings from the UK and Ireland.
Travel Solutions were also big winners at this years Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards picking up a total of four awards, ‘Best Escorted Tours Operator 2019’, ‘Best Ski Operator 2019’, ‘Best Sales Support Team to the NI Travel Trade’ and Don Clarke of Travel Solutions also picked up the award for NI Travel Trade Manager/Representative of the Year 2019.
Industry favourites Jet2holidays picked up a trio of awards, ‘Best Airlines to Europe 2019’, Best Travel Internet Booking System 2019’ and ‘Best Tour Operator to Europe 2019’.
Janine Barr of Terra Travel, won the hotly contested Travel Consultant of the Year award, introduced for the first time in 2014.
The Travel Student of the Year Award, presented to the student who displays a real passion for travel and tourism. Belfast Met student Chloe Gordon impressed the judges with her passion for travel, in-depth knowledge of the travel and tourism industry and dedication to her career path at this years assessments.
The Awards gala, organised by Northern Ireland Travel News in association with Blue Insurance, was attended by almost 440 members of the travel and tourism industry, as well as key decision makers from the travel and tourism industry in the UK and Ireland.
The glittering gala evening, held once again in the fabulous surroundings of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa, was hosted by Charlie Lawson, better known as Coronation Street’s volatile, big Jim McDonald.
The full list of winners are below:
Best Tourist Information Centre 2019 – Visit Belfast Welcome Centre
NI Tourism Special Achievement Award 2019 – Wilma Erskine
Ni Tourism Industry Award 2019 – Royal Portrush Golf Club – The Open 2019
Best NI Visitor Attraction 2019 – Titanic Belfast
NI Travel Student of the Year 2019 – Chloe Gordon
Best Travel Insurance Company 2019 – Blue Insurance
Best Luxury Cruise Line 2019 – Silversea
Best River Cruise Line 2019 – Riviera Cruises
Best Cruise Line 2019 – Royal Caribbean International
Best Accommodation Only Specialist 2019 – BookaBed / Room Team
Best UK Airline 2019 – Easyjet
Best Airline to Europe 2019 – Jet2.com
Best Airline Worldwide 2019 – Emirates
Best Ferry Company 2019 – Stena Line
Best Holiday Add-Ons or Car Hire Provider 2019 – Do Something Different
Best Worldwide Tour Operator 2019 – Gold Medal / Travel 2
Best Escorted Tour Operator 2019 – Travel Solutions
Best Specialist Tour Operator 2019 – American Holidays
Best Luxury Operator 2019 – If only
Best Ski Operator 2019 – Travel Solutions / Balkan Ski
Best Tour Operator to Europe 2019 – Jet2holidays
Best Destination Award 2019 – Spain
Travel Trade Manager/ Representative of the Year 2019 – Don Clarke
Best Sales Support Team to NI Travel Trade 2019 – Travel Solutions
Best Travel Industry Internet Booking System 2019 – Jet2holidays
Best NI Multiple Retail Agency Branch 2019 – TUI NEWRY
NI Travel Consultant of the Year 2019 – Janine Barr
Northern Ireland Travel Special Award 2019 – British Airways 100th Anniversary
NI Travel & Tourism Industry’s Roll of Honour – Lynda McCorry
NI Travel Industry Award 2019 – Brian Ambrose OBE
Northern Ireland Travel Agent of the Year 2019 – Limavady Travel