Todd Says South Down Jobs Can Benefit From A Boost In Tourism

DETI Minister Arlene Foster made a Ministerial Statement in the Assembly about her intentions for the future support for tourism. These will have implications and opportunities for South Down explained Martyn Todd, Alliance candidate for the South Down Westminster election.

He said: “Following a lengthy and in-depth review of the tourism sector in NI by a respected former civil servant, John Hunter, Minister Foster announced a new name for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board – ‘Tourism Northern Ireland’. As those in South Down know only too well, new names are not straightforward and it remains to be seen how this decision for a new name will result in improved tourism activity.

[caption id="attachment_31417" align="alignleft" width="400"]Over 80,000 people watched the Festival of Flight in Newcastle. Over 100,000 people watched the Festival of Flight in Newcastle, one of Northern Ireland’s premier summer crowd pullers. [/caption]

“The Minister made clear that she intends to see closer cooperation between Tourism Northern Ireland and all the new councils. She said in her statement to MLA’s in the Assembly: “By implementing the review recommendations, Tourism Northern Ireland will have a much greater presence at a local level and will develop strong relationships and increase its knowledge of the needs of local tourism partners. That is particularly important given the imminent changes in local government, with increased powers for the new councils and their responsibility for community planning, including local economic development.

“Collaborative working with the new councils and the establishment of strong partnerships must be a priority for Tourism Northern Ireland to maximise the tourism potential of each of the nine key tourism destinations across Northern Ireland. The Hunter report recommends the development of a tourism growth fund jointly supported with the new councils. I will work to establish such a fund in the next Budget period.”

[caption id="attachment_53301" align="alignright" width="200"]South Down Alliance Candidate Martyn Todd from Saintfield. South Down Alliance Candidate Martyn Todd from Saintfield.[/caption]

Mr Todd added: “South Down has an abundance of actual and potential tourist attractions. As well as having two of NI’s eight Areas of Outstanding Beauty (and being adjacent to a third), it contains a magnificent coastline, many mountains, Christian heritage sites, Viking sites, ancient Celtic sites and legends, important sites of the 1798 rebellion and the birthplaces of many world-famous people. The potential to develop these into a sustainable visitor economy is huge.

“To make the most of this potential the new council, whatever its name may be, will need to focus on better cooperation with tourism bodies north and south of the border, neighbouring council areas and all South Down tourist enterprises. It will also have to improve links with the largest potential market for visitors – Great Britain.”

Martyn Todd, who himself served on the board of the NI Tourist Board for five years, added: “There are two sectors that have the most potential for growing the South Down Economy – small businesses and tourism. The Minister’s recent statement stresses that, to maximise the benefits that tourism brings to the local economy in terms of increased visitor numbers, tourist revenue and employment opportunities, the new council must cooperate within itself and with all the tourism support agencies, north and south of the border and in Great Britain”

The target for tourism’s contribution to the local economy is £1 billion by 2020. Additional targets include increasing visitor numbers to 4.5 million and creating an additional 10,000 jobs within the tourism sector by 2020.

“If these targets are achieved, South Down has the potential to benefit to the extent of an annual tourist contribution of £100 million, generating an additional 1,000 local jobs,” added Mr Todd.