Tourism Matters In Focus

Whether it is 'flying your kite' surfing off Benone, (pictured) or enjoying cultural tourism in west Belfast, the way tourism is marketed has been in focus this week.

Both an advance - and a more backward step - in tourism matters were highlighted yesterday as two politicians spoke out on making the most of visitor numbers.

The Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast and party Tourism Spokesperson Paul Maskey welcomed movement on the provision of a West Belfast Tourism 'Podcast'.

Following the news, Mr Maskey withdrew an adjournment debate from the Assembly which was to be heard to press the NI Tourism Minister, Arlene Foster on the issue.

Instead he said: "I welcome the fact that any outstanding issues in relation to the provision of a tourism podcast for west Belfast will be addressed in the coming weeks.

"This is a great result for tourists who flock from around the world to see what Belfast has to offer.

"This project will provide and in depth history of the area to those who want to access it," he said, insisting that the west of the city has a "fantastic history that can now be further explored in all its richness utilising modern technology".

A podcast is a high-tech method of accessing digital media files that are released and downloaded through web syndication, over the Internet, by direct download, or streamed webcasting.

Meanwhile, SDLP South Belfast MLA Conall McDevitt has sought confirmation from Arlene Foster in the Assembly that the proposed £1m spending efficiencies being sought from Tourism Ireland will not in any way impact of the marketing of Northern Ireland In Great Britain.

He said: "I will be monitoring Tourism Ireland's activity in GB closely in the coming months. It is essential that we continue to invest in this highly important market for out Tourism sector.

"The Minister assures me that the efficiencies being sought from Tourism Ireland will have no impact on the marketing of this region in GB.

"This is a big claim and one which must be delivered on," he insisted today, noting that a failure to invest properly in marketing at this time "would be disastrous for our regional and national tourism sector".

"At this time of downturn we need to redouble our investment in potential growth sectors not cut back on it," he concluded.


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