From the early settlement located at the point where the River Lagan met the Rivers Farset and Blackstaff, the city of Belfast has long had a maritime connection. Belfast developed around these rivers, configuring them into culverts, docks, quays and slipways before they become harbour then lough then sea.
The area of Belfast once dominated by shipyards is now one of Europe’s largest waterfront regeneration sites with millions of visitors every year, while the busy Harbour handles millions of tonnes of cargo. Belfast has embraced its maritime beginnings and clustered new attractions around the waterfront, including the five star visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast which has had a remarkable impact on the world, already attracting over six million visitors from 145 countries and creating a new, exciting and thriving riverside maritime destination. Where once the shipyards built huge passenger liners and cargo tankers, the new industries of tourism, recreation and technology are advancing.
Titanic Foundation have developed the Titanic Quarter Destination Plan, which sets out a menu of possibilities and options for the long-term development of Titanic Quarter as a destination. The plan covers a range of projects aimed at making the area a globally recognised iconic heritage waterfront, bringing the stories and the vast heritage surrounding the destination to life. Helping support Belfast and Northern Ireland to achieve its full tourism potential.
Over the next 5 to 10 years the TQ Destination Plan sets out 12 key projects under 3 core themes – connectivity, visitors and heritage. Projects include the development of a Maritime Mile which links the waterfront from Donegall Quay to the tip of Queen’s Island; improved digital infrastructure to inspire visitors with stories of the past through their mobile phones; and to continue the preservation and restoration of unique heritage assets such as the Thompson Dry Dock and the 3 ‘wee’ steam cranes that worked along the tracks during the shipyard’s heyday.
The destination plan was developed with input from Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour Commission, Tourism NI, Titanic Quarter Limited, the Odyssey Trust and a range of organisations on the Titanic Quarter Destination Forum. It is these private and public sector organisational partnerships, amongst others, which will be key to the realisation, delivery and implementation of the ambitious plan.