Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell encouraged all those with an interest in tourism to help inform a new vision and action plan for the sector.
The Minister was speaking as he announced that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Tourism Northern Ireland have organised six regional workshops to seek the views of the broad range of stakeholders in the tourism sector.
The regional workshops will take place during February at locations across Northern Ireland and will be used to inform the draft vision for tourism and subsequent action plan for delivery.
Speaking on the stakeholder engagement exercise, Jonathan Bell said: “We want to develop a Tourism Strategy for Northern Ireland which has support across industry and government to enable the realisation of an innovative and vibrant tourism sector. It is important that we meet with a wide range of stakeholders to hear their views on the issues facing the Northern Ireland tourism sector, to discuss how we maximise the economic impact of tourism, grow the industry and create valued jobs within the sector.
“While there is much to be proud of, the highly competitive nature of the global tourism industry means that we must continue to press ahead and capitalise on current opportunities such as our hosting of large events and business tourism helping us to remain globally competitive over the next decade.
“The Hunter Review recommended that a new tourism strategy be developed in collaboration with government, tourism agencies and the tourism industry. I would encourage all of those with an interest in our tourist industry to attend one of the workshops near them and let us know their opinion. It is by working together we can achieve our aim to grow the sector and encourage people to visit Northern Ireland and find out more about our heritage, culture and beautiful natural landscapes.”
Speaking on the growth of the Northern Ireland tourism sector in recent years, the Minister added: “There is a confidence in the tourism sector and a new appreciation of its potential to contribute to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy and to support wealth creation. Over the last ten years the tourism sector in Northern Ireland has achieved new heights of global standout and international appeal. Visitor numbers have risen to 4.5 million and the sector’s overall contribution to Northern Ireland’s GDP has risen from 4.9% to 5.2% which represents total revenue of three quarters of a billion pounds.”
Regional Workshops are planned as follows:
- 2 February: Armagh City Hotel, Armagh
- 4 February: The Hedges Hotel, Ballymoney
- 9 February: The Enniskillen Hotel, Enniskillen
- 11 February: Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – Cultra Manor
- 23 February: The Playhouse Theatre, Derry/Londonderry
- 24 February: The Burrendale Hotel, Country Club & Spa, Newcastle