Key representatives from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board visited St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, on Wednesday June 25 to learn more about the Cathedral’s new visitor experience.
They were welcomed by the Dean of Belfast, Dean John Mann, and People’s Warden Mervyn Hempton, who has been instrumental in overseeing some of the technical and practical aspects of bringing the new visitor experience at the Cathedral to fruition.
This ‘familiarisation’ visit was facilitated by Oli (Outside Looking In) a Belfast–based tourism strategy and delivery agency which developed the visitor plans, interpretation and technology for the Cathedral.
A total 15 NITB personnel took part in the visit. After refreshments, they were shown to the Library, where Dean Mann spoke about the Cathedral as a sacred space, about the people who visit, and about the history of the Cathedral.
Dean Mann described St Anne’s as ‘a centre of reconciliation within the community’ and spoke of the cross community aspects to the Cathedral, including its innovative Choir School Project which works in three north Belfast schools.
Julie McNeice, Oli’s Managing Partner, outlined the background to the new visitor experience, which includes a state–of–the–art audio tour of the Cathedral and high quality guidebook. She spoke about the inspiration behind the new branding.
“We are excited to be sharing this tour with you today,” she told the NITB representatives. “The quality and content of the tour is really quite something. This is the first time this innovative technology has been used anywhere on the island of Ireland. It is lovely to be out in front showing others how to do things.”
The visitors then all had the opportunity to experience the audio tour themselves, using the Datatron headsets.
The tour lasts 40 minutes. Highlights include extracts from Lord Carson’s funeral service in 1935, with personal reflections by Sir Donald Murray who was a choirboy in St Anne’s that day, and Colonel David Twigg speaking about the Military Chapel.
The NITB representatives left St Anne’s knowing more about the historic building and it is hoped this knowledge will help them guide visitors in the direction of beautiful Belfast Cathedral.