The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s most recognisable attraction and was identified as one of five signature projects to form the backbone of the national tourism strategy.
For years the visitor facilities had suffered from underinvestment, a number of fires and lack of strategic coordination and partnership between stakeholders.
Recognising the importance of the Giant’s Causeway to Northern Ireland’s tourism economy, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment initiated three concurrent strands of work: a tourism strategy and an interpretative strategy for the Causeway Coast and Glens; and the procurement of a new visitor centre through international competition.
Jim Roberts led the consultant team for a period of two years through a process that ultimately led to the successful delivery of the new visitor centre in 2012. A comprehensive site options appraisal and business case brought the various stakeholder interests together. Jim also organised and co-ordinated the international design competition – according with Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA) regulations – which attracted the largest ever response to a UK contest with over 800 expressions of interest. The competition was won by Heneghan Peng.
The landmark £20m visitor centre opened in 2012 and signals not only the importance of the World Heritage Site, but also Northern Ireland’s improving tourism offer and a spirit of partnership among key stakeholders and interest groups.