20/10/2011

Titanic Boost For NI Tourism On Way

The bricks and mortar of NI's newest visitor attractions will form the building blocks upon which the future of tourism will be built, Arlene Foster said today.

The Titanic building in Belfast and the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre are due to open next year as part of the 'NI2012' celebrations.

Visitor numbers are expected to be significantly boosted well beyond 2012, generating an additional £140million in revenue for the Northern Ireland economy and creating over 3,500 jobs.

Addressing delegates at Hospitality Exchange, NI's largest conference and exhibition for the hospitality sector, the Tourism Minister said the time was right for the industry to grasp these unprecedented opportunities.

The DUP Minister said: "By next year, we will have completed a £300m investment in tourism infrastructure here.

"The new Titantic building and Giant's Causeway visitor centre will be in place; promotional initiatives and events, such as NI2012 and the UK City of Culture for Londonderry in 2013 will be ready; and the preparatory work of important organisations, such as the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, will come to fruition in providing the industry will the tools and knowledge needed to capitalise on these opportunities," she said, adding that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) has been working hard with industry to ensure the circumstances were right to encourage growth.

The Minister said: "It is my vision that tourism can grow into a £1billion industry within the next nine years. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is working to implement this strategy and to prepare the sector through initiatives such as its ongoing Industry Development Programme of Events."

Emphasising that everyone had their part to play in ensuring that the visitor experience in Northern Ireland was better than other regions of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Arlene Foster added: "We cannot afford to sit back and expect the benefits come to us.

"The time for action is now. We expect to significantly boost visitor numbers well beyond 2012 and generate an additional £140m revenue for the Northern Ireland economy creating over 3,500 jobs.

"We must all deliver opportunities for our visitors to spend their money on a world class experience and contribute to the local economy right across Northern Ireland. My Department is fully committed to the success of tourism here but the bottom line is that tourism is everyone's business."

She was speaking at Hospitality Exchange - an event that attracts in excess of 500 delegates, including business leaders from the hotel and restaurant sector, along with delegates from tourism industries and government agencies.

(BMcC/CD)

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