Margaret Ritchie Launches St Patrick Tourism Initiative

writes Anne O’Hare Ms Ritchie was a key player in driving the launch event held on Thursday 27th October 2011 in the Saint Patrick’s Centre which now shines a spotlight on all the monastic heritage treasures around County Down, and in turn hopes to use our sacred spaces such as Inch Abbey, Struell Wells, St Patrick’s Grave and Saul church as a marketing tool to draw people from across the globe to Co Down. Ms Ritchie explained she had a strong belief in the major potential of the area around South Down and believed the strategy would be complimentary to other plans and related development. [caption id="attachment_31205" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="South Down MP Margaret Ritchie with Justin Sharvin, Head of Geography, Travel and Tourism at the De La salle High School with pupils from his school and St Mary's High School at the launch of the St Patrick's Tourism Initiative."][/caption] She said, “I have developed this plan in conjunction with local stakeholders. It concentrates on the Patrick-related tourism and logs the steps in Downpatrick’s journey toward being known, across Ireland and the rest of the world, as the hub of St Patrick tourism. “In this plan I set out a range of development issues which together will form a growing tourism package.” Ms Ritchie added, “Patrick is the brand which stands for so many virtuous qualities that draw people across the globe to celebrate Ireland and Irishness, in March each year. There is huge potential to develop St Patrick-related tourism to bring social and economic progress to the Downpatrick area. Minister of the Environment, Alex Attwood also attended the event and in his address to the many local representatives and councillors who attended, he described St Patrick as a “sleeping giant” who could increase the visitor footfall to the area quite significantly. He said, “The quality of our built national heritage far surpasses anything elsewhere in Great Britain. We can sense it in our gut this is something very special that Downpatrick can offer the tourist trade.” [caption id="attachment_31207" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="DOE Minister Alex Attwood, right, at the launch of the St Patrick's Tourism Initiative held in the St Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick."][/caption] ]]>