Business and tourism in Northern Ireland are set tobenefit from the introduction of a new direct air route to Geneva from Belfast.
The daily route will be operated by easyJet out of Belfast International Airport. It is the seventh new route that has been set up with the support of Invest Northern Ireland’s Air Route Development Fund.
Welcoming the new service, Enterprise Minister, Barry Gardiner MP, said: “Geneva is a key economic centre, home to the World Trade Organisation and over 100 multi- national corporations, including some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. This makes it a highly attractive destination for local businesses wishing to explore export and partnership opportunities in akey European marketplace.
“The new route is also good news for the tourism sector, providing exciting opportunities for attracting inbound tourism from central Europe.”
The Air Route Development Fund is administered by Air Route Development (NI) Ltd, an Invest Northern Ireland company set up to improve air access to Northern Ireland to help develop business linkages and inbound tourism.
Leslie Morrison, chief executive of Invest NI, said: “Increasing the numberof international scheduled services out of Northern Ireland is essential if we are to open up global marketing opportunities for local business. Geneva is an important hub airport in Europe, so this new service improves access to overseas markets not only in central Europe, but worldwide.
“In just over a year, Air Route Development (NI) has secured seven new services out of Northern Ireland that are helping to put Northern Ireland on the international business map, as well as contributing to the growth of the tourism sector here.”
Northern Ireland Tourist Board Chief Executive, Alan Clarke, said: "Today's announcement of the route to Geneva, and easyJet’s intention to launch a service to Palma, is good news indeed and yet another signal of private sector confidence in Northern Ireland. This brings the number of new direct international routes secured this year to nine, now giving us a total of ten.
“We predict that visitor figures for 2004 will pass the two million mark for the first time ever and increased air access is vital if we are to continue to grow tourism.”