The very best of Mid and East Antrim tourism was celebrated at a special event in Ballymena this week.
Businesses from the borough recently enjoyed an award-winning night at the Tourism NI awards.
And at a reception in The Braid, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim personally congratulated those whose tourism achievements were recognised by the prestigious showpiece’s judges.
First citizen Councillor Lindsay Millar said: “We know how fantastic our tourism offering within Mid and East Antrim is, but it is wonderful that our local businesses have been given such esteemed endorsement by Tourism NI.
“These awards recognised excellence, best practice and innovation by tourism and hospitality businesses from across Northern Ireland over the past twelve months.
“Our tourism and hospitality industry continues to be a real success story with visitors flocking from around the world to take in our renowned attractions.
“We have the magnificent Carrickfergus Castle – the gateway to the Causeway Coastal Route, the stunning Gobbins cliff path, a world-class spa resort in Galgorm, the UK Village of the Year in Broughshane, key sites from the iconic Game of Thrones, and, of course, St Patrick’s connections with Slemish.
“Our role as a Council is to go out and make sure we spread the word of how great Northern Ireland, and in particular Mid and East Antrim, really is, and to support businesses investing in our wonderful borough.
“Those businesses continue to excel and the word is out that our borough is a must-visit for any traveller.
“Huge congratulations to those who were rightly awarded for their incredible work.
“Water’s Edge Bed and Breakfast in Glenarm won NI’s Best Stay in a Guesthouse or B&B – a superb achievement and testament to the exemplary service provided by Jenny and Peter Monroe.
“Not only did they take on the challenge of renovating and investing in the former police station in Glenarm, but in their first year they achieved the borough’s first 5-star graded B&B and now have received the ultimate accolade for providing an exceptionally special and friendly stay.
“Galgorm Resort and Spa was commended by Tourism NI as NI’s Best Stay in a Hotel.
“They also won the 2017 Global Spa of the Year award at the World Luxury Hotel Awards. They will be hosting the World Luxury Spa and Restaurant Awards on 14 July 2018, which offers the perfect opportunity to showcase everything the Borough and Northern Ireland has to offer. I wish Colin and his team every success with this special event.
“Ballygally Holiday Apartments was commended as NI’s Best Stay for Self Catering - another great achievement for Julie and Mark Campbell. This was their first year in operation having taken over a pre-existing business. What a great start and as well we are grateful that they’ve been proactively working with The Gobbins Tourism cluster.
“The team from Galgorm Castle and Golf Club - Gary Henry and Ross Oliver - are also here today as the Northern Ireland Open was highly commended as the best Northern Ireland Event or Festival Experience for international visitors.
“Since becoming a European Tour Group event in 2013, the NI Open has been the European Challenge Tour’s standout tournament with record crowds growing year on year. In 2017 over 43,000 visitors attended and as Council we continue to support this event.
“We also have the team from Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust. Graeme, Carol and Tiérna have championed the ‘Economusee’ concept within County Antrim and their ‘Artisans at Work’ initiative was commended by Tourism NI as Authentic NI Experience of the Year.
“Two of these Economusees are within Mid and East Antrim, Steenson’s Jewellery and Hillstown Brewery.
“As Mayor, I was delighted that our unique tourism offering on the Causeway Coastal Route was acknowledged as the number one region to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet.
“This opens fantastic opportunities for the 2018 tourism season in Mid and East Antrim and will help to promote the region to many more tourists.
“Growing the economy and developing our tourism potential in Mid and East Antrim are the top two strategic priorities for Council.
“This borough has huge tourism potential and Council strives to work in partnership with local communities and the tourism industry through the tourism clusters ensuring that we all have the skills and support required to grow and make the most of tourism in the borough.”