Orange museum into competition final

Pacemaker Press 18/6/2015 'Roger Gardiner  at the museum of Orange Heritage at Sloan's house in Loughgall.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 18/6/2015 'Roger Gardiner at the museum of Orange Heritage at Sloan's house in Loughgall.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The Museum of Orange Heritage in Loughgall has made it through to the final of Northern Ireland’s ‘Best’ Small Visitor Attraction.

The attraction or experience from each of Northern Ireland’s 11 council areas which received the highest number of ‘likes’ from members of the public on the Belfast City Airport’s Facebook page are now proceeding to the final stage of the competition, and are one step closer to winning £30,000 of free marketing support and brand visibility at the airport.

A judging panel consisting of representatives from across the travel and tourism industry, will now visit and score each visitor attraction and experience. Joining Katy Best, Commercial Director at Belfast City Airport, will be Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen, alongside Justin Reid, Director of Destination Marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa at TripAdvisor.

Roger Gardiner, Sloan’s House Director, stated: “We are obviously delighted to have The Museum of Orange Heritage at Sloan’s House, shortlisted.

“We are very grateful for the public’s help in placing their vote by ‘liking’ the photo of the Museum on the Belfast City Airport Facebook page and to have the most ‘likes’ in the ABC Council area is just fantastic.

“Our best thanks to everyone that voted for Sloan’s House, Loughgall.”

Other finalists include: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council; World of Owls: Ards and North Down Borough Council; The Somme Museum: Belfast City Council; Taste and Tour NI: Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council; RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre;

Derry City and Strabane District Council; Siege Museum: Fermanagh and Omagh District Council; Erne Water Taxi: Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council; Clip ‘n Climb: Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Carrick Cottage: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council; Kilcreggan Urban Farm: Mid Ulster Council; Todds Leap.

The competition, which was open to visitor attractions and experiences across Northern Ireland that have an annual footfall of less than 100,000, will offer the winner £20,000 of branding on site and £10,000 of online support through the airport’s digital channels.

Katy Best, Commercial Director at Belfast City Airport, said: “We are delighted to announce the finalists from each council area, all of which truly represent the diversity of the tourism industry here in Northern Ireland.

“The public vote on the airport’s Facebook page attracted over 21,000 votes with the campaign reaching almost 400,000 people online. The visibility this stage of the competition has provided the shortlisted attractions will hopefully be of great benefit in raising their profile amongst on audience.

“During the next stage of the competition, a judging panel will visit each of the finalists and determine an overall winner.

“The winning attraction or experience will have the opportunity to boost its profile amongst an audience of 2.6m local and overseas visitors that travel through the airport each year.

“I would like to thank those who got involved and voted for their favourite attraction or experience on the airport’s Facebook page over the past few weeks, it is great to see the amount of support each one has received from members of the public.

“I am also delighted to announce that travel expert Justin Reid, Director of Destination Marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa at TripAdvisor, will be joining myself and Tourism NI on the judging panel for the final stage of the competition.”

The £20,000 of free advertising on offer at the airport will be across a number of formats within the terminal, while the £10,000 of digital support will include activities such as email solus campaigns and social media takeovers.

Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen, said: “The finalists who have reached the last stage of the competition play a vital role within the Northern Ireland tourism industry, with each one offering visitors to the area a rich and diverse experience.

“I would like to congratulate not only the finalists, but all who were shortlisted in each region and I hope this initiative has helped to increase awareness of the variety of attractions and experiences available across Northern Ireland.

“Good luck to all of the finalists and I look forward to seeing what each has to offer during the judging process and the much-anticipated winner announcement this summer.”