Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s Chief Executive Alan Clarke has received an Honorary Fellowship Award from Belfast Metropolitan College for his outstanding contribution to tourism. He was awarded the College’s highest accolade for steering NITB through a momentous period of change and investment, culminating in the ni2012 ‘Our Time, Our Place’ campaign that helped overnight trips from the Republic of Ireland increase by 16% to 430,000 during 2012. Holiday trips from the Republic grew by 70% during the year.
Founded in 1906, Belfast Met is the largest Further and Higher Education College in Northern Ireland and the sixth largest anywhere in the UK with over 37,000 student enrolments.
At its annual higher education graduation ceremony, Alan Clarke was one of three industry leaders in Northern Ireland to receive the College’s first ever Honorary Fellowship Award.
With over 30 years’ experience in the tourism industry, Alan has led the launch of a significant number of additional new tourism facilities, attractions and events throughout Northern Ireland, helping NITB to secure a number of huge international events including the 2011 MTV Europe Awards, last year’s record-breaking Irish Open, the world famous Giro D’Italia 2014 cycle race, which launches in Belfast next May, and the current Derry UK City of Culture celebrations.
In his acceptance speech Alan talked about his career and passed on some valuable insights and lessons learned. “Belfast Metropolitan College has a fantastic reputation for the creative industries, including Travel and Tourism courses, so it is with great pride that I receive this Honorary Fellowship,” he said. “I hope that the 2013 graduates, and all future graduates, will gather inspiration from the transformation of the Northern Ireland landscape that NITB has played such a large part in, and use this to help build upon the futures that each of them have now started to create.”
Joining Alan Clarke in receiving the inaugural Honorary Fellowship Award from Belfast Met were former South Pole adventurer and spinal injury pioneer Mark Pollock in recognition of his outstanding personal achievements, and Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. The annual graduation, the largest event in the College’s academic calendar, welcomed 2,000 guests to Titanic Belfast and its Titanic Quarter Campus as graduates from the Faculty of Technologies and Academic Studies, the Faculty of Health, Care, Sport and Leisure and the Faculty of Leadership, Science and Service Industries were conferred.