Violence blocking NI tourism growth, says Empey

 

The greatest obstacle to the creation of a strong tourist industry in Northern Ireland is street disorder, the Tourism Minister Sir Reg Empey has said today.

The minister was speaking as he outlined targets for increasing tourist visitors to Northern Ireland by 25 per cent over the next three years.

He also wants visitor spending to rise by 9 per cent a year to 2004 - from £282 million sterling to £363 million.

But there had to be real peace in Northern Ireland for these targets to be met, the minister said.

Without peace, tourism was left in a "crippling straitjacket", he told the annual meeting of the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau.

There were 10 essential priorities in making Northern Ireland a "must visit" destination and helping achievement of the targets, he said.

These included:

  • Developing a distinctive Northern Ireland product which was market led, sustainable and effectively packaged;
  • Co-ordinating marketing to an agreed set of target markets;
  • Delivering high quality in the tourism experience itself and in services to customers;
  • Improving access to Northern Ireland by air, sea and road;
  • Having a fully co-ordinated approach to tourism by all government departments, and encouraging much more private sector involvement, particularly by establishing an industry group representing key interests.