Carrickfergus Enterprise is to deliver a £77k business support and training initiative for the coastal area between Larne and Newtownabbey.
The two-year programme will create 10 jobs and safeguard 20 more.
It will work with businesses and tourist providers to develop a collaborative marketing strategy which aims to attract more people to the area and to increase average visitor spend.
Kelli Bagchus, manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, said the Meadowbank Road agency is delighted to have been awarded the grant.
She added: “Carrickfergus has a superb coastline along the Belfast Lough and beyond as well as a renowned twelfth century Norman castle and historic town centre.
“It has many exemplary examples of tourism providers but on a daily basis, due to the location of the marine highway, visitors stop briefly in the town or drive straight through to the Antrim coast without staying. This results in lost revenue and potentially jeopardises the long term viability of such businesses.
“The proposed project sits on the route of the Giro d’Italia through Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus towards Larne. Major sporting events over the next few years will undoubtedly attract additional overseas visitors to Northern Ireland with the Irish Open in Royal County Down in 2015 and Lough Erne in 2017.
“In addition, Northern Ireland’s reputation with the film and TV industry and popularity of the Titanic Visitors Centre will further help bolster tourism and predictions for increase in visitors’ spend.”
The project was announced by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan as part of a £1.5million boost from the UK-wide Coastal Communities Fund.
The fund is allocated by the UK Treasury to the Department of Environment and is additional to the department’s budget.
Kelli continued: “The project that we are aiming to commence in the coming weeks will provide a package of support to include skills development and training of participating businesses in areas such as marketing, finance and social media. This will improve the businesses know how and assist them to develop their business in order to grow and survive.
“A joint marketing approach will be developed to allow local providers to raise their profile as a quality tourist destination and help potential visitors to visualize a broad range of places to visit on route including accommodation, activities such as sailing or horse riding as well as places to eat or purchase gifts.”