Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member and Chairman of the Stormont Public Accounts Committee, has called on the Executive to make it a New Year resolution of helping boost farm tourism by making Northern Ireland a “litter free zone when the Assembly returns from its festive break on 16 January”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is also UUP Chief Whip and a member of the Stormont Agriculture Committee, said many in the agricultural sector knew that diversification was the way forward to ensure the future of the industry and farm tourism was a key method.
Assemblyman Swann added: “This is why the Stormont Executive should help in whatever way possible to ensure Northern Ireland becomes a litter free zone.
“We have in our Province, wonderful opportunities where farm tourism potential can be developed even further, and we all as responsible citizens have a role to play is giving visitors to the region a good impression.
“This can be achieved primarily with everyone playing their part in making Ulster a litter free zone.
“Our Province boasts some of the best natural tourist attractions in the globe – the Giants’ Causeway, for example in my native North Antrim.
“This, and other attractions, are visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually, so it is imperative the Stormont Executive supports farm house accommodation for tourists, as well as develop the bed and breakfast market based in the agricultural sector.
“It is not just enough for the tourism organisations to promote farm attractions; there must be cash made available by the Executive and especially by the Agriculture Minister and her Department to help support any industry in the Province which is in the business of developing farm tourism.
“For this also to be achieved, there must be a clean and well-kept rural communities, and I would also call on the roads people to ensure our roads are kept litter free.
“If Northern Ireland is to develop a booming farm tourism industry, we must equally ensure there is an effective partnership based on a policy of the three A’s – attractions, accommodation, and access.
“And it’s not just in the rural areas that this Triple A policy must be developed. We also want to make sure the excellent urban shopping facilities are maximised to the full, and I would again encourage shoppers to think local in 2017 by buying local, and retailers to think local by stocking local.
“If we can achieve this partnership of the community, retailers, providers of accommodation and roads people, then there is every possibility Northern Ireland’s farm tourism industry can become one of the premier visitor attractions, not just our Province itself, but right throughout the United Kingdom,” said Assemblyman Swann.