A global tourism expert who has spent over a decade mentoring community leaders in West and East Belfast will be honoured at the Belfast International Homecoming which opens tomorrow (Thursday).

Swansea-based Terry Stevens became a familiar face across Belfast as he helped Fáilte Feirste Thiar, the West Belfast tourism agency, and its counterpart EastSide lay the foundations for their vibrant tourism offerings.

In a video message accepting his Belfast Ambassador Award, Terry Stevens says he has been enriched by his relationship with the city. 

"Belfast and me has been a love affair for almost 50 years with an intriguing, fascinating, innovative, compelling, creative, and brave city full of wonderfully resilient, talented, friendly people, people who've been loyal to me," he says. 

"In all my professional work, it's always been my ambition to leave a project or to leave a destination, having made friends, not just clients. And I sincerely hope that that's what's happened in Belfast."

The tourism specialist is a longstanding friend of Belfast, stretching back to the early 1970s when he visited as a student. In 1982 he was the Allied Irish Bank’s Visiting Professor in Rural Planning at Queens University.

He adds: "I have thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed being part of your tourism journey, over these years, developing, I hope, an understanding of your unique narratives, your extraordinary assets, and admiring your grit, your determination, and your ambitions to make tourism, part of the solutions for the future of your city for using tourism, to enhance the quality of life of all of your residents, and in working together to make the quality of the visit for me and others as visitors a wonderful experience."

Multi-award-winning Terry Stevens has worked in 55 countries. In Belfast, he has regularly organised thought-provoking tourism debates as part of Féile an Phobail. His two books, Wish You Were Here: the stories behind 50 of the world’s great destinations and Wish You Were Here Europe both feature Belfast.

A total of 11 Belfast Ambassador Medals will be presented at City Hall tomorrow evening (Thursday). The Belfast International Homecoming opens at Titanic Belfast at 8am tomorrow. To attend in-person to follow the livestream, register here.