The Story of Belfast – the making of a tourism destination

If you think Belfast hasn’t got much to offer as a tourist destination, you’d be wrong. Sure, it’s got the iconic Titanic Centre but beyond that, Belfast is quite simply one of the most interesting places we have worked. And we have been privileged to work on three projects concerned with developing the destination narrative for Belfast.

Our first foray into Belfast was to produce a new narrative for the city’s tourism offer based on its ambitious cultural regeneration programme.  These ambitions – and the narrative we produced – are articulated in the cultural statement A City Imagining published by Belfast City Council.  The narrative was developed through an intensive and creative engagement process with partners and stakeholders, making sure that all voices were listened to so a truthful, compelling and agreed story of the city could emerge.  On the back of this we produced a tourism development framework identifying four priority experience themes – stories, maritime, contrasts and creativity.

Moving things forward the second phase of our work was developing a destination positioning for Belfast, building on the  narrative and aligning with the Belfast City brand and Tourism Northern Ireland’s new experience brand Embrace A Giant Spirit.  Taking account of a highly complex brand architecture, our role included working with the partners, hammering out the detail to agree a sensible, consistent and workable approach to promoting the city as a tourism destination.  We were inspired in this task by case studies of Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Bordeaux and Glasgow.

The third element was working with the inward investment team of Belfast City Council to develop a narrative for their promotion of the city as a place to do business.  Riffing on the tourism narrative we aimed to capture the essential essence of the place beyond the facts and figures which economic promotion tends to get caught up in.  It was a balancing act – and the results can be seen here on the Invest in Belfast website.

Three captivating projects for this unique city.  We’d love to go back.

"We are a city that confounds expectations. A city that’s like no other. For a capital city we’re small … compact. Our heart is big. Our spirit strong. Our energy palpable. Our character stout. Our humour dark. And the craic is mighty.""