BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR
IT’S been a stormy year in more ways than one for the travel industry at home and abroad, but that won’t stop the Northern Ireland public from going on holiday in 2024, according to the organisers of the 31st annual Holiday World Belfast show, which will take place at the Titanic Exhibition Centre (TEC) in January.
At home in Northern Ireland, it’s been a year to forget as far as the weather is concerned, with no fewer than SIX* named storms to date, and our wettest July on record – with 27% more rainfall than average.
On a global level, we’ve had contrasting weather issues, from major storms to incredible heatwaves, not to mention wildfires, wars, air traffic control problems, strikes and a cost-of-living crisis to deal with.
Historically, as shown over many decades, Northern Ireland holidaymakers are nothing if not resilient, which means that when the going gets tough, they go on holiday.
And what better way to kick off 2024 than to start planning your dream holiday with a visit to Holiday World Belfast, the province’s biggest annual celebration of travel and tourism.
The three-day event, which attracts more than 11,000 visitors every year, lands at the TEC on Friday, January 19, and will showcase a huge choice of dazzling travel options at home and abroad.
Visitors will have a chance to snap up dozens of exclusive ‘show only’ deals, get the inside track on where to go directly from operators and destinations, learn more about current holiday trends and discover new ideas, and receive advice from travel professionals on how to pay less for their holiday.
Some lucky guests could also go home with a free holiday might – if they win one of the many ‘free to enter’ prize draws that will run throughout the show.
“There’s no doubt that it’s been a challenging and unpredictable year for the travel and tourism industry around the world, at a time when the industry was recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic – and the global lockdown that literally grounded everyone,” said Maria Hourican, Chief Executive of Business Exhibitions Ltd, the company which organises the Holiday World Shows in Belfast and Dublin.
“However, if Covid taught us one thing – or rather reminded us – it’s that the travel industry is incredibly resilient. And people are incredibly resilient. And holidaymakers in particular are incredibly resilient.
“It seems that our annual holiday is the last thing we want to give up. Holidays are sacrosanct to us – and missing out on our dream holiday one year only makes us more determined to get away and enjoy ourselves even more the next year.
“With this in mind, we fully expect 2024 to be a massive year for the travel industry in Northern Ireland and what better way to start planning your holiday than with a visit to Holiday World Belfast in January.
“We’re thrilled to be back in Belfast for our 31st show which promises to be bigger and better than ever, offering visitors a one-stop-shop for all their travel dreams. The timing really is perfect for us to give travellers, adventurers and holiday seekers from all over Northern Ireland a glimpse into the wonderful world of travel and tourism,” she added.
“With operators and destinations from around the world and closer to home, all converging at the iconic Titanic Exhibition Centre, there really is something for everyone. Whether you like the thought of relaxing on a sunny beach, a cruise on the high seas, exploring the pyramids of Egypt, an exciting city break, or uncovering a hidden gem closer to home, Holiday World has it covered.
“Visitors will get the chance to do their travel research face-to-face, chatting with sector professionals in a lively, fun-filled environment that’s all about getting into holiday mood. Everything is right there under one roof and, with so much competition on hand and so many special show-only offers on the go, bargain-hungry visitors know they can secure really keen prices and added value offers,” concluded Maria.
Holiday World Belfast will play host to international tourist boards, destinations, airlines, ferry companies, hotels and B&Bs, visitor attractions, travel agencies and a vast range of service providers.
Operators and destinations already confirmed include Egypt, Malta, Mysteries of India, Spain, Cyprus, Travel Solutions, Air Canada, easyJet, Hays Travel, Stena Line, Irish Ferries, Barrhead Travel, Camino groups and French camping sites, with the promise of more to be announced over the next two months.
One of the fastest growing areas of the holiday industry is undoubtedly the cruise sector – which is reflected at the show, with a dedicated Cruise Pavilion hosted by local cruise specialist Oasis Travel.
Visitors will be able to find out more about cruise holidays from leading companies such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Riviera Travel and Virgin Voyages.
For those who like to holiday closer to home, Holiday World Belfast also includes a Home Holiday Pavilion and the ever-popular Caravan & Motorhome Show, featuring the latest, most tempting models and declaring open season on just about every sort of holiday in the Great Outdoors, with fresh takes on camping, glamping, caravanning and park resorts at home and abroad.
Holiday World Belfast will take place at the TEC (Titanic Exhibition Centre) on Queen’s Road in Titanic Quarter, Belfast from 10am to 5pm on Friday, January 19, Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21, 2024.
Tickets cost £5 for adults; £4 for Senior Citizens and £3 for Students.
A special family ticket gives admission for two adults and up to four children for just £10 and a 2-for-1 ticket deal is available online at www.holidayworld.registrationdesk.ie/2-for-1-voucher/.
For more information or to keep up to date on the latest event developments, visit https://holidayworldshowni.com/