25/06/2002

Belfast launches cultural tourism strategy

Belfast’s bid to become a key European cultural destination was given a boost today with the launch of a local government strategy and action plan to increase tourism in Northern Ireland.

The newly published cultural tourism strategy by the Belfast City Council (BCC) offers the opportunity to the cultural, arts and tourism sectors to create and develop, within a strategic framework, the image of Belfast as a significant cultural destination.

The Council said they hoped to build on the opportunity for tourism created by its bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008.

The BCC said strong leadership was vital in order to co-ordinate partnerships which will be responsible for preparing the physical environment of Belfast for future cultural tourism initiatives.

The development of the Council’s cultural tourism strategy and action plan comes after an extensive period of widespread consultation with those already working within the tourism and cultural sectors as well as the political parties represented on Belfast City Council, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Arts Council and the Sports Council, Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, Imagine Belfast 2008 and the Belfast Arts Marketing Group.

The strategy, BCC said, reflects the belief that, with the high investment levels of recent years allied to a vibrant cultural life, Belfast’s aspiration to become a major European cultural tourism destination is built on solid ground.

To achieve Belfast as a significant European cultural tourism destination the strategy said a number of key objectives will need to be fulfilled, including: offering tourists a quality visitor experience that informs and entertains through cultural presentation; focusing on meeting the needs of the tourist; making it as easy as possible for the tourist to source information to facilitate as active or as relaxed a visit as they wish to enjoy; and ensuring that Belfast remains a value for money destination.

Belfast City Council said they believed cultural tourism was vital to underpinning the development and promotion of both culture and tourism in the long term and needed the whole community’s support.

(AMcE)

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