THE UNITED KINGDOM
Titanic is “world’s biggest tourism story”
Titanic Belfast is an iconic six-floor building featuring nine interpretive and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as the City and people which made her. It is the world’s largest Titanic exhibition.
The building will also house temporary exhibits, a 1,000-seat banqueting suite, education and community facilities, catering and retail space and a basement car park. Visitors will learn about the construction of RMS Titanic and the wide and rich story of Northern Ireland’s industrial and maritime heritage.
Supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, Titanic Belfast is a unique public / private partnership funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Ltd. It is operated by Titanic Belfast Ltd and will be owned by the Titanic Foundation Ltd.
Titanic Belfast is opening on March 31st 2012 in time for the centenary of Titanic’s maiden voyage. Additional space will be devoted to:
• Community arts and education facilities
• A large gallery for temporary exhibitions, performances and meetings
• Cafes, restaurants and shops
• Titanic Suite (1,000-seat capacity suite banqueting / conference centre)
TITANIC ‘SIGN OF THE TIMES’
15 Tonne / 15 metre Titanic Sign Winched into Place
A 15 tonne ‘Titanic’ sign, believed to be the largest ever made in Northern Ireland, has been delivered to Titanic Belfast where it will form a focal point on the plaza around the new visitor attraction.
Lazer-cut and made from eight, 30mm thick, solid steel plates, the 4.5 metres tall, 15 metres long sign is the same length as the private promenades available on Titanic’s most expensive accommodation, the First Class Parlour Suites. The Parlour Suite on the port side, consisting of rooms B52, B54 and B56, was occupied by Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line, which owned Titanic. The new sign is also the same weight as Titanic’s main anchor.
Made by BSK Engineering, based near Cookstown, the sign made its 50 mile, four-county journey to Belfast from County Tyrone via the M1. A number of roads had to be closed in Dungannon to accommodate the over-sized structure which was transported as a completed piece.
Tim Husbands, Titanic Belfast’s CEO, said: “In less than three weeks Titanic Belfast will open its doors to the world. The effort which has gone into making Titanic Belfast not only an impressive physical spectacle, but also an amazing experience inside, has been simply immense.
“Everything about this project, from the Titanic sign to the 3,000 shards which make up the building’s exterior, to its use of breath-taking technology to bring Titanic’s story alive, has been designed to give Northern Ireland an attention grabbing, international attraction. Even the plaza on which the sign sits includes one of the world’s largest outdoor maps of the northern hemisphere tracing Titanic’s route across the Atlantic.
“Interest in the project has been phenomenal. Pre-booked ticked sales are now over 50,000, including 1,000 group tours, and spaces are quickly running out for the opening day and other key dates during the upcoming Titanic 100 Festival in April.”
BSK Director, Barry Kerr, who oversaw the construction of the sign, said:
“BSK Engineering has supplied several items of steel work to Titanic Belfast ranging from railings to pavillions. Given the unique nature of the building and its contents, there’s been nothing run-of-the-mill about any of the jobs we’ve completed – not least the sign.
“It’s taken a team of up to six workers the best part of two weeks to put the sign together, but the result has been worth it – a Titanic sign for a Titanic project. Everyone at the firm has been proud to be involved with such a prestigious project. We’re looking forward to joining the tourists to get our pictures taken outside Titanic Belfast beside our handiwork”.
During its trip to Belfast, the Titanic sign made a scheduled stop at Sacred Heart PS, near BSK’s premises. Principal, Mr. Eunan McGinn, said: “The school has strong community relations and we are always eager to enhance the curriculum and incorporate learning outside the classroom, so when we heard that our neighbours at BSK were working on the Titanic sign we asked them to stop by.
“Titanic is currently a thematic unit taught to enhance pupils’ understanding of the world around us. The children were amazed at the sheer scale of the sign - they’re definitely enthused about all things Titanic now.”
Three years after work began, Titanic Belfast is now beginning to near completion in the run-up to its opening on March 31st, 2012. To date, tickets and tours to the attraction have been pre-booked from around 20 different countries including some far flung destinations such as New Zealand, Australia and Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean.
Work in progress - The Grand Staircase
Worldwide travel guide Fodor’s identifies Titanic Belfast as top attraction. One of the world’s longest established and most influential travel publications has labeled the Titanic centenary commemorations in Belfast as the “world’s biggest tourism story in 2012”. Fodor’s Ireland 2012 has dedicated an unprecedented eight pages of its guidebook to the Titanic, two of which focus on Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic exhibition which is set to open on March 31st. Click on the link below to access Fodor's Ireland information.
The book features two pages on Titanic Belfast, which it describes as a ‘Top Attraction’, and a six-page colour photograph ‘spotlight special’ on the Titanic, covering its history and the special centennial events set to take place. The section also includes information on the Titanic Quarter development and on touring the landmarks associated with Titanic, such as Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House and the Slipways.
Fodor’s Ireland has also named Belfast as one of the top 21 places in the world to visit in 2012.
Travel journalist Paul Clements, a contributing writer to Fodor’s Ireland, said:
“The New York editor of Fodor’s Ireland 2012 believes the Belfast commemorations of the centenary of the Titanic will be the biggest tourism story in the world in 2012 – even bigger than the Olympics as far as the US market is concerned. That is quite an endorsement from one of the most respected and long-established travel guidebooks in the world - one which is a major influencer amongst US tourists when choosing holiday destinations.
“It is most unusual for a guidebook to dedicate as many as eight pages to the coverage of one topic, but this reflects the scale and depth of interest throughout America and the rest of the world in the Titanic story. The book has already hit the shelves in the US and tourists there will no doubt be reading up on Titanic Belfast and planning their trips to Northern Ireland.”
Tim Husbands, CEO of Titanic Belfast, said:
“We always knew the Titanic story was a truly global one which has captured the imagination of people around the world and the extensive coverage in Fodor’s, coming so soon on the back of National Geographic naming Belfast in the top 20 places to visit in 2012, is further evidence of this.
“Belfast will open its doors to the world more than ever before this year and we are looking forward to Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic experience, being the focal point for international visitors. We have already sold over 40,000 tickets, including to people in the US, Australia and Canada, and the excitement really is starting to gather pace as we approach the official opening on March 31st.”
Siobhan McCauley, Director of Product Development at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: “Titanic Belfast and the whole range of commemorative events and celebrations in Northern Ireland across 2012 is set to provide huge positive lift and excitement. This latest accolade from Fodor’s will give another boost to our focused efforts to make 2012 an outstanding success story for tourism, and deliver more jobs and revenue for Northern Ireland. It is also a very welcome addition to a growing list of travel endorsements that have recently appeared in major international publications nominating us as a ‘must see’ destination.
“Our hope is that people throughout Northern Ireland will also be inspired by what we have already announced to reach out to family and friends abroad and encourage them to come here or come home in 2012 to experience the very many exciting events and attractions that we now offer visitors.”
A former BBC journalist, Paul is now a travel writer and author whose titles include ‘Burren Country: Travels through an Irish Limestone Landscape’ (2011), ‘The Height of Nonsense: The Ultimate Irish Road Trip’, ‘Irish Shores: A Journey Round the Rim of Ireland’ and ‘Jan Morris: A Critical Study’. He has also contributed to ‘Insight Guide Ireland 2011’ and edited ‘Jan Morris: Around the World in Eighty Years’.
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