FLAGSHIP Twelfths, like the one held in Coleraine, have been a big success, a special Orange Order conference in Belfast has been told.
The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said the flagship initiative had led to a higher profile for the Twelfth.
Mr Stevenson said: ““We have also seen increasing confidence and capability being developed through our Welcome Host programme,” he said.
“We are delighted that so many who are not members of the institution, ladies and young people, have given of their time to focus on the tourist and the visitor during the Twelfth festivals
The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Howard Hastings, and the Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, were among those who addressed the conference on the concept of the Flagship Twelfths.
“Grand Lodge is committed to ensuring that our Twelfth festivals, attracting at least 500,000 participants and spectators including overseas and GB visitors, have something to offer for the tourist industry and the Northern Ireland economy, said the Grand Master.
Last year there were five Flagship Twelfths in Antrim, Newtownstewart, Hillsborough, Cookstown and Coleraine.
“The effort put in by flagships has been exceptional and our Welcome Hosts have been fantastic, making contacts with tourists and visitors and being exceptional ambassadors for the Orange Order and traditions,” said Mr Stevenson.
As part of the conference, awards were presented to the organisers of the Flagship Twelfths since 2006 and certificates were presented to Welcome Hosts.