Event to drive tourism

Event to drive tourism

11 April 2018

KEY players from the local tourism sector took part in a special event on Monday as part of Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s drive to increase the number of visitors to the district.

The Industry Day at the Canal Court Hotel in Newry was designed to help maximise tourism potential as the local authority aims to ensure the district becomes a premier destination in Ireland.

The event provided an opportunity for local tourism businesses to hear from Carol Gleeson from the Burren Geopark about how they could benefit from such a designation.

This aspect of the industry day was particularly important as Newry, Mourne and Down Council is seeking prestigious UNESCO geopark status for an area taking in the Mournes, Ring of Gullion and the Strangford and Lecale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Council officials have also begun a detailed consultation programme to determine the views of local business, industry and the wider community on becoming a geopark.

Developing visitor experiences was an integral part of Monday’s event with a panel of speakers including Caroline McErlean from The Cuan in Strangford, Bren Whelan from Donegal Climbing and Tina O’Dwyer from The Tourism Space.

The afternoon sessions focused on local tourist guides who shared their experience in promoting holistic recreation in the outdoors, with David Maginn speaking about self-catering holiday cottages.  

Council chairwoman Roisin Mulgrew said Monday’s event was designed to provide key insights into the way the local tourist industry can increase business by using the district’s Mountains, Myths and Maritime theme.

“Growing tourism is the key priority of the council’s corporate plan,” she continued. “The launch of the local authority’s tourism strategy last year outlined how we would  develop visitor destination experiences that will deliver epic moments.

“With key targets such as the development of visitor experience plans for the region, the council has wasted no time in working with the industry on completing these plans and setting the directions for epic moments. We are sure that these will deliver unique visitor experiences for Newry, Mourne and Down and increase tourism in the region.”  

Tourism Northern Ireland’s Rosemarie McHugh described the outlook for tourism across the region as “generally good,” particularly in relation to the Republic of Ireland market which has demonstrated a significant upturn in performance. 

She added: “2016 showed a return to growth in holidaymakers from the Republic of Ireland market. However, significant opportunity still exists with residents from the Republic taking over five million overnight holiday trips on the island of Ireland in 2016, spending £942m. In Northern Ireland, the share of these trips was just 3%. 

“From a Republic of Ireland perspective, further growth in domestic holiday taking is expected and as a region, Newry, Mourne and Down is encouraged to position itself to take advantage of latent potential.”