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Causeway tourism cluster secures funding to encourage collaboration

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Causeway Coastal Route Tourism Cluster has received a funding boost of £25,000 through Invest Northern Ireland’s Collaborative Growth Programme.

Considered to be an unforgettable tourist route, the Causeway Coast offers a breadth of experiences from memorable scenic locations, charming villages and exceptional hospitality choices along the way.

The Causeway Coastal Route Tourism Cluster aims to promote the area further with this latest funding boost. The cluster will scope out how best to encourage a wider tourism market to the area and enhance its popularity as a visitor destination.

Led by Marine Hotel Ballycastle, the project will focus on assessing how best to bring together three existing cluster groups, The Gobbins, The Glens of Antrim and Causeway and Binevenagh.

Causeway and Binevenagh Chair, Ann Donaghy, said: “The Causeway Coastal Route has fantastic landscapes with iconic attractions. Our tourists continue to seek new adventures, experiences, activities and attractions. The Causeway Coastal Routes 200 micro businesses have much to offer to increase dwell time and create sustainable year-round businesses within our communities.

“The Collaborative Growth programme is a welcomed opportunity to support SMEs to collectively explore new products, services or ways of working with the aim of strengthening and growing their business”

The Collaborative Growth Programme is aimed at Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) led networks, supporting opportunities to scope out innovative collaboration projects with the potential to increase business competitiveness.

Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Competitiveness at Invest NI, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the Causeway Coastal Route Network through our Collaborative Growth Programme. In recent years we have supported over 100 such projects across a diverse range of sectors and subject matters; and we are confident that collaboration is a very successful method of accelerating business growth. We already know that tourism is vitally important to the area’s economy and we hope that this project will help identify new commercial opportunities for the companies involved.”

Having worked in the enterprise sector for 24 years, Kelli Bagchus, Manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, has recently been appointed as facilitator of this project: “This funding is a real boost and the collaboration will be key in strengthening the quality of visitors’ trips, therefore shaping tourism in the local area. There are brilliant experiences out there, but the industry tends to be fragmented so this funding and collective working will ultimately lead to a combined focus and improve business performance for those in the area.”

Kelli added: “I have a real understanding of the local landscape having assessed business needs and developed innovative support mechanisms such as the Coastal Hub Series and travel app, Experience Northern Ireland. There is a desire to continue to enhance the unique offerings of the wonderful Causeway Coast and we will continue to maximise on this.”

The project began in January and will run until November 2020. During this time, Carrickfergus Enterprise will be scoping out the current offerings and identifying possible collaboration opportunities as well as looking at best practice in other destinations in Ireland and UK mainland. If you would like to help shape tourism in your local area or find out more, get in touch via [email protected]

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