SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has spoken about the potential for growth in tourism figures in Derry following 2013.
News of the apparent failure of the Northern Ireland Our Time Our Place campaign and the dip in tourism figures has been reported in the press this week. I have spoken to tourism providers in the City and there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that Derry doesn’t seem to be seeing that trend.
Since the clipper festival in June, Derry has been extremely busy with tourists from all corners of the world.
I have long espoused the tourism potential of Derry and the North-West. We are now on the cusp of 2013-our year of culture. Early indicators suggest that 2013 will herald increased visitors over the next number of years. Our target is to develop a tourism strategy of 600,000 visitors annually by 2020, with our current annual figure at 300,000.
Obviously this will be helped by events such as the Fleadh as well as our own established offerings like the jazz festival and Halloween celebrations.
I have recently spoken with Alan Clarke the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourism regarding the need for more specific marketing for 2013. I believe government could and should do more in this regard.
Derry is currently doing well despite government inaction. If we had proper infrastructure, better roads and rail network our numbers would swell dramatically.
Tourism is vitally important to the City and is a major opportunity for growth and to create employment opportunities.