Developing Tourism Cluster Groups
The importance of tourism businesses working in collaboration groups has been demonstrated by the outputs from a pilot TourismNI cluster programme.
Collaboration as a way of working is not a new concept for tourism businesses in Northern Ireland. A spirit of collaboration has been emerging over the last number of years to jointly create visitor experiences that are accessible, bookable and compelling.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic and the strong alignment of tourism businesses behind the new experience brand, ‘Northern Ireland –Embrace a Giant Spirit’, has furthered interest in collaborative partnerships, and accelerated participation in forums and networks across Northern Ireland.
Over the last number of years Tourism Northern Ireland has been working with a range of partners including local authorities to further collaborative working across the sector including in the form of formal ‘cluster’ groups (collaborative networks). This has cumulated in many requests for guidance in setting these up and supporting them.
We therefore thought it would be timely to capture some of the feedback and lessons learned from across the various fora and experiences to date. This guide is primarily aimed at those businesses who want to start an ‘experience’ cluster group to jointly create marketable visitor experiences, but other groups should find it equally useful as the principles remain the same. This guide is divided into five steps. It will offer advice on gathering the right people who can work together through to developing an action plan with the right foundations in place. Each of the five practical steps will cover lessons learned in practice across a number of clusters.