We are delighted that our Chief Executive Judith Owens has received an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours for services to Tourism.
Judith was named Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast in December 2017, following on from her time as Director of Operations and Deputy CEO since opening in 2012. Prior to this she was Head of Operations and House Manager at the Waterfront and Ulster Hall for 14 years.
With experience spanning nearly three decades, unrivalled knowledge of the tourism and events industry and an exceptional track record, Judith’s leadership, commitment and expertise has seen Titanic Belfast go from strength to strength, welcoming over 6 million visitors from 145 countries, winning ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the World Travel Awards and seeing the attraction contribute £360m in additional spend back into the NI economy to date.
She led further commercial development by establishing TBL International as a management company overseeing the introduction of heritage ship SS Nomadic and exhibition venue TEC Belfast, into its operational portfolio. In 2019, Judith successfully attracted HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition to Belfast, spearheading the planning and operation of the exhibition during its six-month run, working tirelessly with industry to further establish NI as the ‘Home of Thrones’. She is also an enthusiastic and key collaborator in the wider development of Titanic Quarter, enhancing it to attract visitors and investors.
Outside of her position at TBL International, Judith never loses sight of her ambassadorial role in driving the tourism sector and its valuable contribution to the NI economy. Currently serving on the board of Visit Belfast, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA UK), NI Tourism Alliance (NITA), and previously the Association for Visitor Experiences and Attractions in Ireland (AVEA), she is passionate about advancing tourism in NI.
She was Chair of Tourism NI’s ‘China Ready’ industry development programme and Chair of the RoI Tourism Recovery Task Force, while also played an active role as a key member of the NI Tourism Recovery Working Group, set up in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19 on the NI tourism and hospitality sector. Her ethos of nurturing people and talent inspired her as a co-founder of Hospitality and Tourism Skills (HATS), a collaborative network set up to attract and retain talent in the sector.
Judith is passionate about inclusive tourism, having previously chaired Adapt NI, and is an ambassador for accessibility working selflessly with charities such as Autism NI, Royal National Institute of Blind People and NOW Group to ensure tourism venues are inclusive to all, including minority and community groups. She has established a long-term relationship with the learning disability charity, Orchardville, providing opportunities to work at Titanic Belfast and remains devoted to our maritime heritage, advocating it through community engagement and outreach at every opportunity.
Conal Harvey, Titanic Belfast Chairman said; “We are immensely proud that Judith has been included in the New Year Honours. Judith’s reputation in and contribution to the tourism industry over the years is unrivalled and it is wonderful to see her hard work recognised as Titanic Belfast approaches its milestone 10th birthday in 2022.”
Siobhan Lynch, Director of Operations added; “Judith is renowned for her passion and commitment to advancing tourism in the destination, and the impact of her dedication and drive can be seen in the ongoing success of the world-leading attractions and venues she operates and the colleagues she inspires. We are thrilled that she has been awarded an MBE as she is thoroughly deserving of this honour.”
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