With December 25 fast approaching, a new website has been launched to help gift-givers shop local this Christmas.

shoplocalderrystrabane.com signposts shoppers towards the best artisan and locally made gift providers and showcases the outstanding food and drink options available in the City and District.

The easy-to-navigate site features video messages from business owners, daily competitions and links to the social media pages of other shop local initiatives.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney urged people to champion local businesses this festive season.

“It has never been more important for us to get behind businesses that are locally owned this year, given the smaller window they will have to open to the public. Finding the perfect gift for loved ones has never been easier or safer with many local retailers now offering click and collect or home delivery services.”

The site will function beyond Christmas time and will be available for the public to access in the New Year.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have announced an investment of £1.7million in a new arts and cultural project in the Derry-Londonderry Urban Village area.

The Ministers revealed plans from the Executive’s Urban Villages initiative to transform the existing New Gate Arts and Culture Centre in the Fountain estate and the adjacent vacant site into a state-of-the-art shared performance space.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The North West Cultural Partnership has used arts and creativity as a catalyst for change over the years, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together in shared experiences.

“The investment of £1.7m by the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, in a new build multi-use performance space will expand their ability and opportunity to facilitate more activities and training; while connecting with wider audiences, not only from the Urban Village area but across the City and further afield, breathing new life into this area.”

The public can view plans at https://www.planningni.gov.uk/

Date: 23 Sep 2020. A world-class Visitor Information Centre has officially opened in the heart of Derry-Londonderry.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Brian Tierney who officially opened Derry’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at Waterloo Place, pictured with, Dave Vincent, Tourism NI, Colin Greer DFC, Catherine Crawley, centre manager and Odhran Dunne, Chief Executive, Visit Derry. The new centre, located in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic City Walls, will be the new hub for tourists to the city and area looking for advice and information on the top attractions to visit and what events are happening across the city and district. Picture Martin McKeown. 23.09.20

Today marked the opening of Derry’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at Waterloo Place. The new centre, located in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic City Walls, will be the new hub for tourists to the city and area, looking for advice and information on the top attractions to visit and what events are happening across the city and district.

The refurbishment works commenced in December of last year following the decision by Derry City and Strabane District Council to relocate the Visit Derry Information Centre from Foyle Street into the city centre. Thanks to funding from Council, the Department for Communities, the Department for Economy and Tourism NI, work commenced on the project to put in place a world-class tourist facility for the city and region.

Welcoming the completion of the works and the opening of the new facility, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney said the opening of the new visitor information office was a significant milestone for Derry and the wider region.

He said: “This is a fantastic facility and I am hugely impressed with the work that has been done to create this world-class centre in the heart of our city. This is a very important tourism capital project for Council and all our partners. We believe that it will greatly benefit our tourism business and domestic and overseas visitors and allow us to showcase and promote our tourism product in a much more animated way to a wider audience.

“This facility will enhance the entire Waterloo Place area of the city and bring new life and activity into a key retail area in the city centre. We believe this location, right in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic city walls, will be popular with tourists as Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place is a central hub for visitors to the city and that it will also greatly help retailers and local businesses in that area of the city centre.”

The Chief Executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen commented; “This is a significant project for tourism in Derry~Londonderry and we are delighted to support it. The new visitor centre will provide an interactive experience with enhanced digital offering and combined with the new central location, this will allow visitors to easily access information on everything the city has to offer. This new interactive visitor centre also compliments Tourism NI’s new experience brand, Embrace a Giant Spirit and sends a clear message to the people here that they should stay home, support local and explore what is on our doorstep.”

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I am delighted that my Department has been able to support this project to relocate the Visit Derry Visitor Information Centre to a more central location.  The new state of the art facility offers a unique and inspirational visitor experience in an attractive and accessible setting and will provide a much needed boost to the city’s tourism offering.  This investment is timely as we work to support the economic recovery of our town and city centres from the impacts of Covid-19The completion of this project will breathe much needed new life into the city centre at a difficult time for traders.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “Northern Ireland is world-renowned for its tourism and hospitality offering and this new centre showcases the many visitor attractions here in Londonderry and the surrounding areas. With so many people staycationing this year, I hope as many people as possible will use the new centre to find out something about their local area, and take advantage of the many wonderful tourism experiences and visitor destinations right on their doorstep.”

Since 2016 Visit Derry has been operating its marketing and administrative functions from the Waterloo Place building. As part of the relocation, the remaining front of house tourist staff will relocate from Foyle Street to the newly refurbished Waterloo Place location.

Funding for the project has been provided by Tourism NI, the Department for Communities, the Department for the Economy and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Construction work commenced in December 2019 and was suspended temporarily as a result of COVID-19 but recommenced in recent weeks to facilitate the official opening.

Derry and Strabane’s fantastic eateries and artisan producers are taking centre stage with the unveiling of the LegenDerry food and drink brand.

The brand, launched by the local Food and Drink Network and supported by the Council, brings together our finest food-focused talent and puts the City and District firmly on the foodie map for locals and visitors alike.

Our innovative, authentic producers, growers, chefs, brewers and restaurateurs are celebrated on the new LegenDerry food website and in marketing material, including this video.

On 28th Jan 2020, 7 students and 2 teachers from the Changchun City, Jilin Province, China traveled to the Derry City and Strabane Region to learn more about our culture; education techniques and to improve their English language skills.

International Language Students from Changchun City, Jilin Province, China, meet with the Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council

Working in partnership with the Mandarin Speakers Association in Derry, a number of students traveled to Derry to undertake an intensive English Language course and learn more about our culture.  This year’s students from the city of Changchun/Jilin Province spent 3 weeks in the city undertaking lessons at both Ulster University and North West Regional College. The students and staff also integrated into 2 primary schools (The Model Primary School & Oakgrove Integrated Primary School) during their time in the city and hosted the Mandarin Speakers Association Chinese New Year Celebration in Ulster University on 26/01/20.

These students then returned to China and act as informal ambassadors for our city. The visit of the international students takes place annually and is part of Derry City and Strabane Council’s ongoing international engagement in China.

A Health Innovation Hub promoting innovative solutions to support living well independently has been launched at the North West Regional College (NWRC).

The Design Innovation Assisted Living Centre (DIAL) in the heart of the college’s Strand Road campus, is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and provides a space where education, business, and the health and social care sector can work together.

The state-of-the-art facility is also home to NWRC’s Academy of Enhanced Care and Clinical Skills providing flexible and bespoke learning for the professional workforce, informal carers, and the community.

Geraldine Lavery, Department Head of Health and Social Care at NWRC, said the DIAL centre will make a significant impact to the lives of local people and their carers who are facing the challenge of living independently at home.

She added: “DIAL is a health innovation hub with a focus to promote collaboration, learning and innovation so that improved practice models and solutions are developed that will support independence and a quality of life for greater numbers of people to live well at home.” 

The opening of DIAL comes with the news that NWRC has been designated as Health & Social Care ‘Curriculum Hub’ for the further education sector in Northern Ireland. As the leadership College for NI, NWRC will lead the HSC sector in curriculum development for Health & Social Care from level 1 to 5.

With a high spec home simulation centre, DIAL will operate as a demonstration centre for solutions to support independence, ranging from specialised equipment, e-health, and smart bespoke digital including Alexa and Eye Gaze. It also contains a dissemination and conference facility with leading edge video/audio capture technology, external live streaming capability, product demonstrations and regional learning networks

DIAL, which launched in November, has been developed by the college in partnership with the Department for the Economy and Connected NI. It also offers advice clinics for clients, carers and businesses, as well as live modelling of design guidelines, standards and principles (e.g. design for dementia).

A high-level delegation from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development has visited the North West to engage with local companies ahead of a trade mission to the US.

During the trip, the representatives met with local businesses and visited Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and CoLab to explore the opportunities for partnership with education and business centres in the US.

The visit comes just weeks before a trade delegation from Derry, Strabane and Donegal travels to Boston and Philadelphia.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle said she was delighted to showcase the city and region for investment and collaborative working.

She added: “The delegates were very impressed with our offering and how well placed we are in terms of offering cost competitive business opportunities in a cross border location, along with high level digital connectivity with a skilled and talented workforce pool.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the work being done by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and its partners to promote the City Region for investment was beginning to gain momentum.

“We are really seeing the benefits of this joined up and positive approach to establish strong economic development links and initiatives between the US and the North West region,” he added.

“The visit by this delegation puts us in a really positive position ahead of our trade mission planned for November.”

Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council Chief Executive said there would be a strong emphasis during the upcoming trade mission on promoting the region’s strategic cross border location to the US market.

“We will also be showcasing our talent, skills and entrepreneurship along with our strong ICT strengths, well established eco system and quality of life,” he said.

The North West City region trade delegation will build on the work done over the past number of years to build strong political, economic and cultural links and to reach out to the diaspora. Key to the visit is the inclusion of local companies to promote the region as an attractive investment proposition and to develop new market and network opportunities.

For more information, visit www.IrelandNW.com #IrelandNW19.

The city of Derry~Londonderry’s tourism sector is thriving, enjoying record occupancy levels and welcoming thousands of visitors each year. The latest addition to the city’s portfolio is the new Holiday Inn Express Hotel, which opened its doors in July 2019.

The Holiday Inn Express is part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, a global company representing 12 hotel brands including Intercontinental Hotels, Crown Plaza Hotels and Hotel Indigo, with over 5,000 partner hotels worldwide. The hotel will be managed by Interstate Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s leading independent multinational hotel operators. These International partnerships and globally renowned brands will provide the hotel and its team with unique access to a world-class portfolio of knowledge, operational and reporting systems and training initiatives to achieve the very highest standards of delivery.

The £7m development will support the wider tourist and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland and provide a new base for visitors to explore the city and surrounding areas. The hotel will create 44 new jobs, generating employment and business opportunities for service providers in the region.

General Manager Stephen Redden commented “We are committed to building a dynamic, passionate and professional team capable of delivering a first-class service for our guests. Our global brand partnerships will enable us to offer ongoing development opportunities for our employees ensuring the hotel is committed to continually enhancing skills, capabilities and knowledge.”

The hotel is the second largest in the city with 119 modern bedrooms and plans are already underway to further increase capacity to 150 bedrooms by early 2020. All bedrooms are air-conditioned and offer appealing amenities such as internet ready Smart TVs, blackout blinds and a free Express Start™ Breakfast for all guests. The hotel’s Express Bar and Café offers an informal all-day dining menu and two on-site meeting rooms can accommodate up to 12 delegates.

Phase 2 of the development is currently in progress to further transform the site with the addition of a stylish independent bar, a chic destination restaurant and 22 modern self-catering apartments, all due to open in 2020.

W: www.hiexpress.com/derry-ldnderry

Contact: Aoife Thomas salesmanager@hixderry.com

T: +44 2871 162400