The 31st Northern Ireland Travel & Tourism Awards took place on Friday October 13 in a glittering ceremony at the newly renovated Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle where local travel operator Travel Solutions picked up four awards and the Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism’s Tanya Cathcart picked up the Northern Ireland Tourism Industry Award.
Local tour operator Travel Solutions picked up four awards at the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards. The entire team picked up the award for Best Escorted Tours Operator 2023, Best Ski Operator 2023 and Best Sales Support Team to NI Travel Trade 2023, while Robert Wilson picked up the award for NI Travel Trade Manager/ Representative of the Year 2023 for the second year in the row.
Downe Travel picked up the award for Travel Agent of the Year, while Alan Whiteside was awarded the Northern Ireland Special Achievement Award. This year’s Travel Student of the Year was Andreea Sucia from the North West Regional College.
All this year’s student nominees were extremely talented and showed excellent promise for their future careers in the travel and tourism industries.
Another notable win at this year’s awards is Tanya Cathcart. As Marketing Director of Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism, she has been flying the flag for Fermanagh at home and abroad, as well as continually upgrading and upscaling the tourism product and welcoming world leaders and international VIPs to the county.
This year the Northern Ireland Travel Industry Award went to Stena Line’s Paul Grant. Paul has worked for his company since leaving college. Working through university he has taken up many roles both onboard and ashore. Rising to the position of Trade Director, he has been a constant presence at the helm during the unprecedented period of success over the last 28 years.
This year the new addition to the Northern Ireland Travel Trade Roll of Honour was Alan Cross, Travel Agent Relationship Director with Jet2holidays. A well known figure to all the travel trade in Northern Ireland, his support for our local travel agents over the past 30 years is well documented. His ethos has never changed in the support of local travel agents with dedicated trade support at head office and on the ground in Northern Ireland.
This years Awards ceremony was hosted by Blue Lights star Martin McCann. Best known for his role in the current BBC hit series, ‘Blue Lights’, Belfast born McCann has also worked alongside directors such as Steven Spielberg, Terrence Malik and Yann Demange.
The Awards are only made possible with the continued support of the generous sponsors.
This year’s celebrations kicked off with a Champagne drinks reception, hosted by Dublin Airport where guests were welcomed by a ceremonial piper, courtesy of Loganair.
Hospitality was sponsored by Tourism Ireland with a fantastic ‘A Taste of Ireland’ menu while the wine was sponsored by Salou Tourism.
This year’s Awards entertainment was Static LED & XOD who left the room wanting more with their surprise dance at the start of the evening as the ceremony.
Stena Line once again presented every guest with a fantastic gift – every attendee on the evening received a voucher for a car and two passengers on any of Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes while keys sponsors Titanic Distillers kindly gifted each guest a miniature bottle to taste test some spectacular vodka.
Later in the evening, Fusion took to the main stage, while DJ Nathan entertained guests into the wee hours in the bar. The evenings entertainment (and the late night pizzas) were provided by Jet2holidays.
This year’s charity was Cruse. Cruse has been providing life-changing bereavement support in Northern Ireland since 1984 helping people through one of the most painful times in life – with bereavement support, information and campaigning.
Stena Line, Travel Solutions, Palladium Hotel Group, Silversea Cruises, British Airways are all returned as category sponsors for this year with the introduction of Yalago, our brand new category sponsor.
The Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards are organised by Northern Ireland Travel News.
The Winners in Full:
Best Tourist Information Centre 2023 – Visit Belfast Visitor Information Centre
Best NI Visitor Attraction 2023 – Titanic Belfast
NI Tourism Industry Award 2023 – Tanya Cathcart
NI Special Achievement Award 2023 – Alan Whiteside
NI Travel Student of the Year 2023 – Andreea Sucia
Best Luxury Cruise Company 2023 – Silversea Cruises
Best River Cruise Company 2023 – Emerald & Scenic Cruises
Best Premium Cruise Company 2023 – Celebrity Cruises
Best Mainstream Cruise Company 2023 – Royal Caribbean International
Best Tourist Board Award 2023 – Spain
Best Holiday Add-Ons or Car Hire Provider 2023 – Do Something Different
Best UK Airline 2023 – Aer Lingus
Best Airline to Europe 2023 – Jet2.com
Best Airline Worldwide 2023 – Emirates
Best Escorted Tours Operator 2023 – Travel Solutions
NI Travel Trade Manager/ Representative of the Year 2023 – Robert Wilson
Best Accommodation Only Specialist 2023 – STUBA
Best Ferry Company 2023 – Stenaline
Best Ski Operator 2023 – Travel Solutions Ski
Best Travel Internet Booking System 2023 – Jet2holidays
Best Worldwide Tour Operator 2023 – Gold Medal
Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023 -Beachcomber Tours
Best Luxury Operator 2023 – If only …
Best Hotel Group 2023 – Palladium Hotel Group
Best Tour Operator to Europe 2023 – Jet2holidays
NI Travel Industry Award 2023 – Paul Grant
Best Sales Support Team to NI Travel Trade 2023 – Travel Solutions
NI Travel Consultant of the Year 2023 – Eamonn Wilkinson
NI Travel & Tourism Industry’s Roll of Honour – Alan Cross
Northern Ireland Travel Agent of the Year 2023 – Downe Travel