New Tourism Strategy Must Include Targets For New Councils Says McCallister

John McCallister MLA, Independent Unionist for South Down, has called on the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment to ensure that the new strategic plan for tourism, announced by the Minister, has localised targets and will bring benefits to all Council areas especially those which have lower than average visitors and tourist spend.

[caption id="attachment_52191" align="alignleft" width="300"]South Down Independent Unionist John McCallister. South Down Independent Unionist John McCallister.[/caption]

Mr McCallister said: “I welcome the rebranding of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to Tourism Northern Ireland and plans for it to work more closely with the new Councils and Invest NI.

“I still, however, have concerns that certain areas are not benefiting enough from Northern Ireland’s increased tourist numbers.

“The recent closure of the Kilmorey Arms hotel in Kilkeel is an illustration of how certain areas are not benefiting from the increased numbers of visitors.

“The spend from Invest NI and the Department to support the development tourist businesses has also been extremely erratic, with South Down and Newry and Mourne doing considerably worse than the average.

“Certain areas of South Down, such as Rathriland and Kilkeel, are not getting the support to attract enough visitors and those that do come don’t have enough activities to spend their money on.

“I have asked the Minister if the new strategic plan will contain specific targets for visitor numbers and spend for each new Council area, including the new ABC Council and Newry, Mourne and Down.

“Without specific targets there is a danger that certain areas of Northern Ireland will become tourist backwaters, therefore missing out on jobs and economic growth.

“From the Mountains of Mourne, the Game of Thrones, to the Bronte Homeland, South Down has some fantastic assets. I urge the existing Councils and the shadow Councils to engage at the earliest opportunity with the Department and Tourism Northern Ireland to maximise these assets.”