Derry City and Strabane District Council has today appointed bmi regional to operate the City of Derry Airport to London Stansted route following a competitive tender process.
The route will run initially twice daily on a 49-seater jet aircraft, with an early morning departure each day enabling commuters from the region to arrive in Central London before 09.00 am and complete a full day’s business before returning on an early evening flight.
The service will operate as a Public Service Obligation (PSO) route for an initial two-year period with support funding provided by the Department for Transport and a subvention of up to £260,000 per annum from Council.
Welcoming the closure of the tender process and the successful outcome of the negotiations with the Department for Transport, Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said Council and CoDA have been working tirelessly, since the decision by Ryanair to cease operating their London route from March this year, to secure a new operator for the route.
“Following that decision last year, Council embarked on a challenging and complicated process of securing a PSO route from CoDA to London. We are extremely pleased that this process is now successfully completed and we are in a position to appoint bmi regional to operate this route. We are delighted to retain this important link with London and provide a route that will offer timings that are conveniently scheduled for a full working day at either destination and that offers connectivity in terms of interlining, with adequate capacity and competitive fares.
“Maintaining frequent, conveniently scheduled air services to London is vitally important for the economic development of the North West City region and for the development of our regional economy and the social development of our region,” he said.
Jochen Schnadt, chief commercial officer of bmi regional, commented: “The North West region of Ireland is undergoing a sustained period of economic growth, and has received significant investment in new jobs and growth projects over the past 12 months. It is important for businesses that the region is well connected to the UK capital and bmi regional is proud to be bringing its quality, premium product to this route. Whereas previously business travellers between Derry and London have had to stay overnight in the city, with our new double daily flights they will now be able to commute there and back in a day, saving both money and time, and hopefully resulting in continued economic growth for the Derry region.”
The Chairman of the CoDA Board, Roy Devine, while acknowledging that CoDA is operating in a difficult economic climate with many challenges including APD, said he was confident the Airport was entering a new era. He said the Council and CoDA will continue to explore further opportunities for the development of the airport which would include securing routes to other UK hubs utilising the support funding announced last year by the Northern Ireland Executive and adding further summer sun rotations and other potential charters.
Members attending the Special Council meeting also agreed that CoDA will provide an updated business case and forecast to Council in the autumn once the route has been established.
Council Chief Executive John Kelpie added: “Council and CoDA continues to work closely with all relevant stakeholders to improve air access to the region and provide a facility and service that is fit for purpose and a key driver to the local economy. The Airport remains an important regional gateway that is an essential part of the future development of the North West City region and we remain committed to ensuring that CoDA, is the airport of choice for the North West of Ireland, offering both convenience and excellent customer service.”
Details of the start date for the new route, including details of flight times and ticket prices, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Visit Derry are delighted to report that summer 2016 has recorded the highest hotel occupancy levels ever seen in the city.
July 2016 with an average occupancy of 84% and subsequently August 2016 which reached 89% were both record months. This represented an increased occupancy shift of 6 percentage points on 2015. In July 17,000 hotel rooms were sold and this was subsequently surpassed by August with over 18,000 hotel rooms sold and this represented a 13% growth in room sales on 2015. The previous record month was August 2013 during City of Culture.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, welcomed the news. “I am delighted to see the hotel industry go from strength to strength. The city is undoubtedly establishing itself as one of the must see destinations and our reputation in the tourism marketplace continues to grow as we welcome more and more visitors. This is also good news for potential investors leading on future developments in the city following recent hotel planning approvals by Council”.
Commenting on the figures Odhran Dunne, General Manager, Visit Derry said
“This is a fantastic performance by the hotel sector. Overnight visitors contribute almost £43m to the local tourism economy and the hotel occupancy data is a good indicator of the destinations performance in attracting visitors throughout the year. We are delighted that 2016 is on track to be a record year for the hotel sector.
A strong leisure tourism market and events calendar has supported this record growth during the summer months. Visit Derry working in partnership with over 260 tourism providers continues to raise the destinations profile in national and international markets in collaboration with Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland. We have noticed increasing interest and room demand from the travel trade and independent travellers and it is great to see this converted into these record results”.
Andy O’Doherty, General Manager, Da Vinci’s Hotel welcomed the news “I am pleased to report that we have had an extremely busy Summer Season at Da Vinci's Hotel. We had our busiest August on record at the hotel and September is looking very promising. Our increased occupancy is due to a number of reasons; more large scale events, a strong domestic market and a weak pound attracting more out of state visitors. We have seen the demand for rooms soar around Clipper and the Foyle Cup which highlights yet again the importance of a special events calendar for Derry”.
Visit Derry are determined to ensure that this momentum continues as the tourism industry offers one of the best opportunities for economic growth in the local economy. The continued investment by both the public and private sector over the coming years in tourism will support the region in maximising our potential as a major tourist hub for visitors to the island.
For further information please contact
General Manager, Visit Derry
T+ 44 (0)28 7137 7577
Visit Derry is a public-private partnership company was established by the local Council as a membership organisation and currently represents 260 tourism providers from across the North West region supporting the growth of the local tourism sector.
The organisation has two key roles - destination marketing and visitor servicing and works with local stakeholders and national tourism agencies – Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland to grow the tourism economy.
Derry shortlisted in the “Coach Friendly Destination of the Year” category at the National Coach Tourism Awards 2016
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Elisha McCallion, welcomed this exciting news. “I am delighted to see Derry shortlisted, the city is undoubtedly establishing itself as one of the leading coach friendly destinations and our reputation in this tourism market continues to grow”.
“The coach tourism industry is a key market segment for the region given our rich heritage and cultural product offering. Council is committed to supporting and growing the tourism industry here in the North West and winning the Coach Friendly title will enhance the city’s reputation in national and international markets as a top destination for coach tour operators to visit.”
Odhran Dunne, General Manager, Visit Derry said “it is great news that the city has been shortlisted in this category as this recognises the destinations commitment to welcoming tourist coaches, coach groups, and coach drivers. It also supports our efforts to enhance the welcome over the last year with the introduction of a new “Meet and Greet Service”. In addition to the on-the-ground delivery we have worked closely with partners including Foyleside Shopping Centre and local tour guides to ensure a high quality visitor experience. The city welcomes coach tour operators from across the globe all year round and it is important that they enjoy an exceptional service on arrival as it encourages them to return time and time again”.
The awards recognise excellence and innovation across the coach tourism industry. Now in its 11th year, the 2016 event will take place alongside the British Tourism & Travel Show on the 16 March at Vox, Resorts World Birmingham, NEC. For further information Website: www.ncta.co.uk
Tourism and hospitality businesses from across Northern Ireland are being urged to enter the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards – the 'Oscars' of the industry – to celebrate their achievements.
The most hotly anticipated awards event in the tourism calendar will take place on Thursday 26 May at St Columb’s Hall in Derry~Londonderry.
Over 300 tourism providers and industry stakeholders are expected to attend the glittering Tourism NI event, being held in association with title sponsor Tennent's NI.
The evening will celebrate Northern Ireland's greatest tourism successes over the past year, as well as looking forward to the opportunities in the 2016 Year of Food and Drink.
A total of 12 tourism awards are up for grabs, including Hotel of the Year, Best Food Tourism Experience of the Year and Best Marketing Initiative.
Stephen Finlay, Tourism NI's Director of Corporate Development, says: "The Northern Ireland Tourism Awards in association with Tennent’s NI are about recognising the very best practice within the local industry and Tourism NI is keen to encourage businesses of all sizes and shapes to enter and attempt to win recognition for their hard work, success stories and professionalism.
"With the Year of Food and Drink initiative in full swing in 2016, much is going on behind the scenes to deliver excellent visitor experiences and to enhance Northern Ireland's reputation as a foodie destination. These gala awards will offer businesses the opportunity to review their performances and identify their core strengths. Winning could be a matter of simply telling us how you have gone that extra mile to set your business apart from the competition. The potential prize for entering is a prestigious accolade for the quality of your products and services."
Tourism NI has set up a website, www.nitourismawards.com to provide full details on categories and how to enter. The deadline for submitting entries is 5:00pm on Monday 22 February 2016.
Announcing his company’s title sponsorship of the initiative, Brian Beattie, Marketing Director for Tennent’s NI, said; “We are delighted to support Tourism NI with awards which identify and celebrate outstanding performance and achievement right across our dynamic tourism sector.
“The awards provide an important annual showcase for best practice, innovation and success and, in 2016, they will have particular significance as we mark Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink. As a leading Northern Ireland drinks company, working within the hospitality sector and firmly committed to its development and growth, we are keenly aware of the positive impact that will accrue from positioning our region as a destination for delicious food and drink and we will proudly play an active role in this ambitious venture.
“I look forward to presenting the Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism and for Customer Service Excellence at the Gala Final of the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards which this year will move for the first time to Derry, a city which has long been synonymous with great food and drink.”
Odhran Dunne General Manager of Visit Derry said;
“We are delighted to host the prestigious NI Tourism Awards for the first time this year during Tourism NI’s Year of Food and Drink. This presents a fantastic opportunity to showcase our unique historic and cultural tourism product offering to the industry’s leading professionals. We encourage all tourism providers to enter this year’s awards to celebrate Northern Ireland’s outstanding tourism products, creativity and innovation. The city was named as a runner up in the Foodie Towns Ireland awards and delegates will be treated to the very best of our locally sourced produce in the spectacular surroundings of the historic St Columb’s Hall. We look forward to welcoming the finalists in May and rolling out the red carpet for what promises to be a ‘LegenDerry’ evening”.
Local businesses flocked to the Guildhall in Derry today to find out more about how they can get involved in this year’s Clipper Race homecoming celebration – the Foyle Maritime Festival.
The programme will take place this year from July 9 – 17, and tens of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive in the city to welcome the 12 Clipper crews, including the Derry~Londonderry~Doire, as they stop over during their year-long global voyage.
A whole host of events have been planned by Derry City and Strabane District Council around the homecoming, offering plenty of opportunities for local businesses - particularly those within the tourism and hospitality sector - to engage with new audiences.
Companies were given a sneak preview of the ten day Foyle Maritime Festival programme, and heard more about what advice and support is on offer from Council in preparation for the event.
Council’s Head of Business, Kevin O’Connor, said that he was delighted at the response from the local business community. “Based on the success of our previous to Clipper Race homecoming events, businesses can really identify with the idea of the Foyle Maritime Festival and the opportunities it presents.
“This event offers a global platform in terms of showcasing the region and brings visitors from far and wide who will be buying local products and enjoying local hospitality. We can offer a range of opportunities for businesses and traders in terms of both corporate sponsorship, and in enhancing their offering in terms of products and services.
“For anyone who didn’t make it along today there will be other chances to engage with the programme, and businesses can contact us directly for more information and advice.”
This is the third time the city will host one of the stopover visits in what has become one of the most significant global sporting events, followed by millions worldwide.
In 2014 the LegenDerry Maritime Festival generated visitor numbers of almost 150,000, making a significant contribution to the local economy.
Local businesses across the public, private, community and voluntary sectors can also apply for funding via the Loughs Agency Sustainable Development Fund which opens in the coming weeks. This will provide up to a maximum of £7,500 for development projects with a further £1,000 accessible for festival and events.
For more information on the full programme go to www.foylemaritimefestival.com