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Chair appointed to drive forward MEA Integrated Tourism Strategy

Colin Johnston, the newly appointed Chair of the specialist Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Task Group

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (MEABC) has announced the appointment of Colin Johnston as Chair of its specialist Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Task Group.

Mr Johnston, Managing Director of the Galgorm Collection, will lead the group in the development and implementation of a five-year Integrated Tourism Strategy for Mid and East Antrim.

Established by Council Chief Executive Anne Donaghy, the Task Group includes Tourism Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland, the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation and a range of local businesses from across the sector. Its aim is to provide a platform for key players and influencers to work together to deliver a clear action plan focused on recovery, and to raise the profile of the local tourism economy within Mid and East Antrim.

According to Mr Johnston, the work of the Task Group will continue to be “critical” in the coming months.

“Having been involved in one of the borough’s primary hospitality and tourism businesses for almost 20 years, I have witnessed first-hand the crucial contribution the sector makes to the local economy and to the wider culture and lifestyle offering of Mid and East Antrim,” he said.

“However, the challenges and threats posed by COVID-19 are among the greatest that our industry has ever experienced and will continue to impact significantly on our local hospitality and tourism businesses for some time.

“That is why a practical and tangible strategy that will drive recovery and sustainable growth must be developed and actioned. Led by the Task Group in partnership with MEABC, this Integrated Tourism Strategy will be critical to our rebuilding a vibrant tourism economy that not only serves as an attractive draw for international and domestic visitors to the borough, but also continues to enhance the lives of its citizens.

“The strategy will put the safety of our visitors and our teams at the forefront and secure livelihoods for our colleagues.”

Councillor Peter Johnston, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, welcomed Colin’s appointment saying:

“We are at a critical juncture for hospitality and tourism in Mid and East Antrim and, as a Council, we are committed to ensuring that the sector is supported in every way possible going forward.

“Our specialist Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Task Group has already made significant strides under the strong stewardship of Anne Donaghy in recent months and I have every confidence that the appointment of Colin Johnston as Chair will only further this.

“Colin brings with him a huge amount of invaluable insight and relevant experience that will undoubtedly prove to be a tremendous asset to all involved. I wish him every success in this new role and very much look forward to continuing to work with him, and his colleagues on the Task Group in the coming months.”