The emerging investment opportunities and contribution to tourism recovery in Northern Ireland were the focus for today’s discussion at the Belfast Region City Deal Council Panel meeting, hosted by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (LCCC).

LCCC is currently leading on a bid to draw down £20 million of funding under the Belfast Region City Deal Tourism & Regeneration Pillar. This is against a £26 million ‘Destination Royal Hillsborough’ investment proposal that will significantly build on the existing Hillsborough Castle & Gardens tourism offering.

The investment programme will comprise of:

  • the restoration of the historic Courthouse & Fort to further enhance the current visitor, conferencing & events experience;
  • the development of a social enterprise café within Hillsborough Forest Park; and
  • improvement to the connection between these attractions and the wider village through a complementary public realm scheme consistent with the heritage significance of the village.

Councillor Uel Mackin, who chaired today’s Belfast Region City Deal Council Panel meeting, said: “Our ambition with ‘Destination Royal Hillsborough’ is to create additional, attractive heritage tourism assets, for Royal Hillsborough, the Belfast region and the wider Northern Ireland tourism offering. Our plan follows the ethos of sustainable heritage tourism within the Belfast Region City Deal Tourism & Regeneration Pillar. Currently we are working in partnership with Tourism NI to move the project towards receiving our allocated funding. At that stage we will commence community engagement on the planned investment.

The progression of the planned investment complements the recent designation of Hillsborough as ‘Royal Hillsborough’ in October 2021. Royal Hillsborough is one of only four villages with a Royal prefix across the UK and the very first in Northern Ireland.

‘Destination Royal Hillsborough’ is one of seven council-led long term and transformative investments being funded under the Tourism & Regeneration Pillar. Together the projects will create a regional, sustainable, year-round tourism product consisting of world class visitor attractions that in turn will create spill over benefits for local economies.

David Roberts, Director of Strategic Development at Tourism NI, who presented at the meeting said: “Tourism NI is delighted to be working closely with all the Belfast Region City Deal Partners to develop and shape the tourism projects coming forward through the Deal. The mix of projects form an exciting package of new attractions and facilities which can help unleash the next phase of growth in tourism as we look to accelerate recovery. Whilst the individual projects have their own distinct characteristics, they share a common purpose in delivering the objectives of the ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ experience brand and the aims of the emerging regenerative tourism strategy for Northern Ireland.”

Momentum continues to build for the Belfast Region City Deal as a whole, as a number of projects in the Innovation Pillar have moved to detailed design stage. The City Deal partners look forward to starting these projects that will benefit the Belfast Region, its businesses and residents in terms of technology, innovation and economic advantage.

The central government, local government and partner investment in Belfast City Deal will leverage critical private sector investment that will ensure delivery of a deal with a value in excess of £1 billion through this ambitious 15-year programme.

For more information on the Belfast Region City Deal, go to Updates are posted at #BRCityDeal