Coastal tourism boost for jobs

Kelli Bagchus, manager, Carrickfergus Enterprise at Kilcoan Gardens with its founder Cherry Townsend.
Kelli Bagchus, manager, Carrickfergus Enterprise at Kilcoan Gardens with its founder Cherry Townsend.

A tourism enterprise project has safeguarded 30 jobs and increased visitor numbers to East Antrim by almost 25 per cent.

Backed by the Coastal Communities Fund and led by Carrickfergus Enterprise, the Coastal Tourism Hub project has helped 30 tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs to hone their skills and develop a unified approach to marketing the area’s tourist destinations.

The 11 full-time, eight part-time and 31 casual roles were created in a range of home-grown tourism companies including restaurants, attractions and artisan food businesses.

The project also reported a 23 per cent increase in visitors to east Antrim coast and a 28 per cent increase in sales at participant companies.

Kelli Bagchus, manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise commented: “The results of the Coastal Tourism Hub project are far beyond our initial projections.

“This shows the growing appetite for tourist attractions in the area and the strength of the offering on the east Antrim coast.

“Half of the businesses involved now support each other through partnerships and referral schemes which are maximising the time and money each visitor spends in east Antrim, securing the future of the industry here.

“We have seen a very positive uplift in the industry here and look forward to seeing how it continues to develop in the coming years as a result.”

Cherry Townsend, a participant and founder of Kilcoan Gardens said:

“The east Antrim coast has long been bypassed by tourists travelling to the north coast, but we have now made some strides towards claiming our place on the local and international tourism map.

“Kilcoan Gardens benefitted greatly from the Coastal Tourism Hub training opportunities, particularly the World Host Ambassador course which is helping us to take our customer service to the next level and be much more competitive with attractions across Northern Ireland.”

The Coastal Communities Fund, which supported this initiative, is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estate’s marine assets. It is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

For more information on the Coastal Tourism Hub please visit www.eastantrimcoastalway.com