Former Belfast Met chief executive and Belfast City Council director of development Marie-Therese McGivern succeeds Kathryn Thomson

Marie-Thérèse McGivern has been appointed Chair of Visit Belfast, the city’s official destination marketing and management organisation.

The former Vice-Chair takes over from Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI, who was appointed to the role in October 2020. Kathry will continue to serve as a member of the organisation’s 15-strong Board of directors.

Confirmation of the appointment was made at Visit Belfast’s annual general meeting at the city’s Europa Hotel, where delegates were updated on its continued progress in delivering the objectives set within its three-year Rebuilding Tourism Strategy – introduced in 2021 to support the city’s post-pandemic recovery.

Commenting on her appointment, Marie-Thérèse McGivern said:

“A key pillar of our city and regional economy, tourism is a significant source of employment in Belfast – supporting around 20,000 jobs – and 50,000 more across Northern Ireland. It’s a catalyst for millions of pounds of investment, in building links, networks and opportunities for business, driving growth in hospitality and retail, in promoting Belfast on a global stage, supporting local culture, arts and heritage and promoting, driving and leading in sustainability.

“Taken together, these highlight the important contribution that tourism makes to Belfast and Northern economy and wider society – and how tourism is a force of good that supports all areas of our economic and social life. Building on the outstanding work of the Board under Kathryn’s lead, this year as we begin a new chapter, is an opportune and exciting moment to take up this important, leading position.”

Marie-Thérèse recently served as Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College. Prior to that, she was Director of Development at Belfast City Council where she was responsible for economic development, arts, tourism, events and community services. She is Chair of Maritime Belfast and also Chair for the Employability and Skills Advisory Board for the £10 billion Belfast Region City Deal. She is a Non-Executive Director of the Strategic Investment Board for Northern Ireland and for Northern Ireland Water.

Visit Belfast chief executive, Gerry Lennon, said:

“I would like to thank Kathryn for the work, dedication and leadership during what has been a period of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty and warmly congratulate Marie-Thérèse on her appointment.

“Tourism growth and recovery continues apace and though challenges remain, I’m confident that Visit Belfast will benefit greatly from Marie-Thérèse’s vast experience, leadership and expertise to further strengthen tourism’s growing economic impact for Belfast and the City Region.”

The AGM heard that Visit Belfast was on track to deliver more than £300 million to the local economy in the three years to 2024 through its sales, marketing and visitor servicing activity – an investment return of more than £30 for every £1 invested, including an on-track and increased target of £125 million for our current 2023-24 year.

Funded and supported by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Invest NI, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Visit Belfast’s strategic partners include Translink, Diageo Ireland, Belfast Harbour, Queen’s Arcade and Value Cabs. Its corporate partners include ICC Belfast, Titanic Belfast, Hastings Hotels, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and the Irish Football Association.

Visit Belfast represents 500 tourism businesses and services across the industry including accommodation providers, attractions, conference venues and services, tour operators, transport providers, entertainment venues, restaurants and cafes, pubs and clubs and event organisers; and provides an extensive range of marketing platforms for tourism businesses to promote their products and services to travel trade, cruise, business and leisure customers.