31st March 2012

Titanic Belfast Opens

Ministerial Photoshoot

Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction has opened in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on the site where the ship was designed, built and launched.  March 31st is also the same date on which RMS Titanic was completed in 1912 and the same day her first keel plate was laid in 1909.

The 14,000 sq m building, modelled on four ships’ hulls rising to the same height of Titanic and clad in almost 3,000 striking aluminium shards, was opened by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

At the opening ceremony the First Minister and deputy First Minster were also joined by 105-year old Cyril Quigley, a Belfast man who remembers being taken by his parents to see RMS Titanic’s launch in 1911.  It’s believed that Mr. Quigley, born on February 5th, 1907, is the last surviving person to have witnessed the launch.

It’s expected that over 400,000 visitors, including 105,000 from outside Northern Ireland, will visit Titanic Belfast in its first year, spurred by the ship’s enduring global appeal, and the centenary of its maiden voyage and tragic loss in April 1912.  Almost 100,000 tickets have already been pre-sold.  The building includes nine interactive galleries looking at every aspect of the Titanic story and the Titanic Suite, a Titanic-themed banqueting venue with a 10,000 piece near replica of Titanic’s Grand Staircase.

Northern Ireland’s tourism Minister, Arlene Foster, said that the opening of Titanic Belfast was a significant milestone in the drive to place Northern Ireland on the global tourism map.

She said:  “This is a proud day for Belfast and Northern Ireland.  Almost 100 years to the day after the maiden voyage, Titanic Belfast, a brand new visitor attraction and one of the most exciting and dramatic tourism projects anywhere in the globe in 2012, will open its doors. “The story of the Titanic is known around the world and it is this unique history which will leave a deep impression upon visitors to this wonderful new building.  Located beside the very slipway where Titanic was built, Titanic Belfast has an authenticity which will bring the ship’s legend to life.

“This year will see an amazing range of events – starting with the opening of this outstanding building and including the Irish Open and new Giant’s Causeway visitors centre.  Taken together with all of the other major events happening in 2013 such as the City of Culture; Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and World Police and Fire Games, this will establish Northern Ireland as a key player in the global tourism industry and a must-see destination for visitors from all over the world.”

Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Chief Executive, Alan Clarke, said: “By bringing the story of Titanic home to Belfast and Northern Ireland we accomplish a vision for tourism that was outlined almost a decade ago. Titanic Belfast is the biggest of five Signature Projects that seeks to change perceptions of Northern Ireland and create international stand-out for visitors from near and far.

“Titanic Belfast is not only an outstanding and thrilling attraction in its own right, it is surrounded by authentic heritage such as the Drawing Offices where Titanic was designed, the Nomadic tender vessel that ferried passengers from ship to shore and the Thompson Dock where Titanic first entered the water. A huge level of investment has gone into preserving and renewing this heritage for future generations of local people and visitors. The tourism industry will benefit hugely from Titanic Belfast and we are poised and ready to contribute to its success.”

The Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall O’ Donnghaile, said:  “As Mayor I am immensely proud of what the people of Belfast achieved 100 years ago and equally proud of what has been achieved in 2012. Titanic Belfast is part of our shared history and our shared future.

“It pays homage to those who perished and those who built the ship by telling their stories. But it is also a symbol of the new Belfast, which is emerging again as a world class city. We can confidently look to the future and proudly state that this is Belfast – the place where this great ship was conceived, designed, built and launched and now home to the world’s largest Titanic tourist attraction. Titanic belongs to Belfast and we want Titanic Belfast to belong to the world.”

Jonathan Hegan, Titanic Foundation’s Chairman, added: “Visitors to Titanic Belfast will learn about Belfast’s proud industrial and maritime past, which we believe will inspire Northern Ireland’s next generations of Titanic thinkers for our industries of the future. The building itself symbolises all the great strengths that created Titanic – vision and ambition, innovation and commitment. We are confident that the same skills will take Northern Ireland forward into new areas of growth and expertise.”

There have been a number of striking parallels between the construction of Titanic Belfast and RMS Titanic. Apart from being built in the same area, both projects also took three years to complete, separated by 100 years.  The fit-out period for both Titanic Belfast and Titanic was also the same. Plus, Titanic Belfast will hold over 3,547 visitors at any one time, the same capacity of Titanic.