Reduce, reuse, recycle. These are terms we have all become well used to. Not only that, but most of us are also applying these terms to daily living where we can. As consumers we have become more conscientious and self-aware of our movements and our Carbon footprints, as well as our actions impact the environment. By taking conscious steps to make changes, even the smallest ones, we each can help reduce our individual impact.

As the world came to a standstill due to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, over a short succession of time, it became apparent in the clarity of the air and the vibrance of the landscape just how much day-to-day life had impacted our local environment not to mention the wider world.

During restrictions as we were encouraged to take daily walks, many became closer to nature and felt the benefits for both body and mind. For many, a renewed sense of appreciation for the world around us and that responsibility to take care of our environment has grown. Making sustainable choices in our daily lives is critical for preserving the natural environment, and it is a key consideration on choosing destinations to visit for short breaks and extended stays.

Over recent years, Ards and North Down Borough Council has taken steps to reduce the organisations carbon footprint, researching how we as a borough can work together to create a greener borough.

We are proud to say many local businesses share this drive. In 2021 a partnership between 11 local businesses and the Council established the AND Sustainable Giants - A Green Tourism Network.

The Green Tourism Network will enable the Council to promote sustainable tourism within the borough. The aim of the network is to make a giant difference in the area of green tourism in Ards and North Down by further developing sustainability and green practices within the local industry.

The group comprises of: WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Clandeboye Courtyard and Estate, Indie Füde, Mobile Team Adventure, Princetown Guesthouse, The Salty Dog Hotel and Bistro, Strangford Lough Activity Centre, SUP Hub NI, Sustainable Journeys Ireland, Tracey's Farmhouse Kitchen and The Walled Garden at Helen’s Bay.

Each of the members is committed to sustainability and practice it in their everyday business. Sustainable tourism is growing in importance with more and more eco-minded visitors keen to make responsible choices and the Council-led initiative will allow local tourism businesses to position themselves at the forefront of green practices.

The Council and the group will work together to enhance their own sustainability, create more opportunities and to further develop the green offering to visitors. The group will also collaborate to create sustainable experiences, share best practice and promote the Borough as a sustainable tourism destination.


“Sustainability is about working together to think about the impact of our actions, and being conscious of the small things we can change or reduce to preserve our environment for future generations.  Being part of AND Sustainable Giants will give me the opportunity to collaborate to ensure the best for this beautiful part of the world.”

Lorraine Small, The Walled Garden at Helen's Bay

“Sustainability and environmental responsibility are at the heart of what we do and talk about at SUP Hub NI, so to come together and work with other likeminded local businesses enables us to compound the impact and experiences we make.”
Iain McCarthy, SUP Hub NI

“The natural capital in the Ards and North Down Council area plays a central role in tourism economy here and as a nature conservation charity we are proud to be part of the Councils Sustainable Giants Network. Environmental sustainability and the sustainability of the tourism economy are interlinked. The umbrella group provides its members with the opportunity to work together, share ideas and develop the suitability credentials of businesses and attractions in the area for the benefit of people and planet.”
Paul Stewart, WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre

“The Council’s Tourism team is delighted to be supporting the Borough’s tourism providers who are leading the way in sustainable tourism. By establishing this network, we are able to facilitate collaboration between network members who have a specific focus on sustainable tourism. We hope that activity such as this will help meet the needs of tourists, the tourism industry and the local community now and in the future.”

Sharon Mahaffy, Tourism Manager, Ards and North Down Borough Council

Find out more about our AND Sustainable Giants as they tell their own stories within their individual videos.

WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre
Nature and Wildlife
Three children walking with a woman towards the Limekiln Observatory - a glass building on a hill.

Here you'll find the largest collection of ducks, geese and swans in Northern Ireland, as well as a gallery, café, woodland walks, sensory garden, events and activities, free parking, and a picnic area.

Ava Gallery
Art Gallery
a room in an art gallery with paintings on the wall

Run by Adam's Auctioneers, The Ava Gallery is a hidden gem of visual arts in North Down, just 15 minutes from Belfast. Its focus is on showcasing the very best in Irish art, through both selling and privately loaned exhibitions & auction previews.

Strangford Lough Activity Centre
Activity Centre
Paddle Boarding

Strangford Lough Activity Centre offer a variety of land and water activities throughout Northern Ireland. Whatever your adventure, we’ll help you realise it. We are run by a team of qualified experienced instructors & guides.

Mobile Team Adventure
Activity Centre
image of a young boy and a man in canoe out on the water

Experience the massive range of fun activities on offer with Mobile Team Adventure which includes paddling, canoeing or kayaking. Try out one of their bespoke guided day trips on the river or sea - the choice is yours.

Tracey's Farmhouse Kitchen
Cookery School
Male and female couple at kitchen table with Tracey.  The male is pouring baking flour from bag into a bowl.

Tracey's cottage is located only 30 minutes from Belfast in a Marine Nature Reserve on Strangford Lough. Join her to make Soda and Wheaten Breads and to enjoy a feast of homemade treats around the Farmhouse Kitchen table. A hands on experience.

Princetown Guesthouse
Guest House
Front exterior of house

Princetown Guesthouse is full of Victorian charm, yet modern and very comfortable. All rooms ensuite. Delicious breakfast available with healthy options and great choice. Ample free off-street parking. Sea views from some rooms.

Sustainable Journeys Ireland
Different styles of crosses made by Brigid Watson

Slow down, connect with nature, Irish culture and local people on a guided, coastal walk or coach tour with local, specialist tour guide, Brigid Watson. You will journey to areas off the beaten track to places which most tourists never see and spend time in places where there are few people.