Visitors to Northern Ireland now have a unique way of enjoying the stunning coastline and local waterways, thanks to entrepreneur Dee Neill who has set up Carrickfergus - based Sail Northern Ireland.
The new company offers charter cruises on board an Elan 434- one of the most luxurious and seaworthy yachts available. It is equipped to accommodate up to seven people and for hire from a single day to a week for cruises along 180 miles of the NI coastline. With support from Invest Northern Ireland, Mr Neill is now actively promoting the business through a website and targeted marketing activity.
Mr Neill, a Royal Yachting Association Commercial Yachtmaster, says: “I believe that we offer not just another tourist facility for visitors that are already here, but also a reason for people to visit Northern Ireland in the first place. The yacht is a top quality vessel and we offer cruises on Belfast, Strangford and Carlingford Loughs, along the Causeway Coast and even as far as Scotland. We also have a smaller vessel – ahigh speed Stormforce 8.4 RIB, supplied by Red Bay Boats of Cushendall - for shorter trips.”
Sail Northern Ireland has links with a number of local tour operators and accommodation providers, strengthening its offering and ensuring tourists can access a seamless holiday experience. Currently employing one full-time and two part-time staff, the company is anticipating strong growth over the next year.
With assistance from Invest NI, Sail Northern Ireland recently exhibited at the Holiday World Show in Dublin. The only local charter cruise business to exhibit, it secured a high level of spring and summer charter cruise bookings from the Republic of Ireland and Scandinavia.
Bill Scott, Head of Regional Economic Development at Invest NI says: “Sail Northern Ireland has identified a gap in the market for high quality cruise experiences and is actively marketing the service both within Ireland and internationally via its website.
“We are keen to support innovative and entrepreneurial businesses, and recognise that this business can add significant value to our growing tourism sector.”