Council defends travel fair absence

Council defends travel fair absence

8 November 2017

THE Mourne Mountains and the many tourist attractions of south east Ulster are almost the only parts of Northern Ireland not represented at a major tourist fair in London this week.

The World Travel Market, which opened in London on Monday, is billed as the world’s biggest travel fair and is being targeted by Tourism Ireland as the launch pad for the 2018 tourism season in Northern Ireland.

Ten regions and tourist attractions from across Northern Ireland are represented at the three-day, prestigious event but none of the many tourist attractions from Newry, Mourne and Down are included.

The Causeway Coast, Fermanagh Lakelands and Titanic Belfast are all represented along with  individual attractions such as The Gobbins cliff path at Islandmagee and the Seamus Heaney Homeplace museum in Bellaghy.

Also represented are the cities of Armagh, Belfast and Derry.

However, Tourism Ireland has revealed that Newry, Mourne and Down Council did not take up an open invitation to be represented at the event, the only major tourism region of Northern Ireland to reject the travel show.

Tourism Ireland said almost £3 billion pounds worth of business was done at last year’s World Travel Market.

Niall Gibbons, the Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Ireland, said at the unveiling of the Northern Ireland contingent that such a large representation of local companies is essential in such a highly competitive global marketplace.

A spokeswoman for Tourism Ireland explained that an open invitation was issued to all councils in Northern Ireland but could not comment on why Newry, Mourne and Down did not take up the invitation.

The council declined to say who had made the decision not to attend the event, but the Recorder understands councillors were not involved and the decision to ignore the World Travel Market did not go before any committee.

A statement for the council said the local authority is currently reviewing the travel and tourism trade shows which the council is represented at, “in line with our Tourism Strategy and forthcoming Tourism Marketing Plan.

“This review is being undertaken with regard to value for money and opportunity to generate inbound visitor volume and revenue to the district. Above all, ensuring value for money is a priority in attending such trade shows,” said the statement.

“The council works in partnership with both Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland to appraise marketing opportunities and attendance at international trade shows and conventions that best suit the tourism growth opportunities for the district. The decision was made not to attend this particular trade show based on the above criteria.”