THE Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Beth Adger, has recognised the success of over 20 citizens at a recent awards ceremony – presenting certificates to candidates who completed accredited courses in Tour Guiding and Storytelling.
Addressing guests at the ceremony in the Mayor’s Parlour in Carrickfergus, Councillor Adger described the qualifications as “particularly timely” as efforts to support the post-Covid recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry continue apace.
“Growing the local economy and developing our tourism potential are the top two strategic priorities for Council,” she said. “For that reason, we are working in partnership with local communities and the tourism and hospitality industry to ensure that they have the skills and support required to grow and make the most of future tourism opportunities.
“With Tourism NI predicting a return to 2019’s £1billion visitor spend by 2025, the next few years will be crucial for Mid and East Antrim as we seek to develop and strengthen our tourism offering. Our new tour guides and storytellers will have an important role to play in this.
“Their skills will also act as a further promotional boost to the tourism offering of both the Whitehead and Islandmagee, and Glenarm and Carnlough areas, which Council is promoting as ‘go to’ destinations along the Causeway Coastal Route.”
Funded by Tourism NI’s COVID Market Led Product Development Programme and facilitated by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the Tour Guiding course was led by Northern Regional College lecturer Karen McLeod, with the Storytelling course led by local storytellers Liz Weir and Stephen O’Hara. Additional support was provided by Colette McCafferty from Travel & Tourism Associates, who was instrumental in the accreditation of the courses.
Designed specifically to provide participants with skills to undertake storytelling performances, the OCN NI Level 2 Oral Skills Unit for Storytelling qualification covers a range of key topics – including researching and analysing stories for oral performance commentaries, and developing and improving skills required to engage the audience and maintain interest.
The OCN NI Level 2 Award in Tour Guiding qualification, meanwhile, is designed to provide the learner with skills in the travel and tourism industry to enable them to develop a tour commentary and lead groups on a guided tour.
The Deputy Mayor continued: “Having successfully completed this training, our newly qualified tour guides and storytellers are now armed with the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to create unique experiences and long-lasting memories for visitors to Mid and East Antrim – an area renowned for having some of the most beautiful and scenic land and seascapes in Northern Ireland.
“On behalf of all at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, I extend our warmest congratulations to this cohort for completing this important training. We wish them every success in what I have no doubt will be a rewarding and successful future within the local tourism and hospitality industry.”
Information on some of the new experiences and tours developed as part of the DAERA and Tourism NI programme will soon be available on the Council’s dedicated tourism website so don’t forget to check out shapedbyseaandstone.com.