North Coast marketing needs improved - McKay
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that NITB should market the North Coast as a single tourism product. Speaking whilst questioning the Chief Executive of NITB Alan Clarke at a meeting of the Assembly's Enterprise Committee being held at the Giant's Causeway.
Mr McKay said:
"I recently watched adverts on RTÉ aimed at the southern market to attract more tourists to the north and in my view it disappointed from a north coast perspective.
"We have an area here of great natural beauty with a rich offering of attractions that sells itself and I think that it should be marketed as a product itself and NITB should consider reviewing how the north coast is marketed. Rathlin for example and it's bird sanctuary is not promoted enough across the rest of the island.
"If Ballymena Council can air an advert focusing on that district surely NITB could do the same for the North Coast."
Mr McKay was also taken on a tour of the new Giants Causeway Visitors Centre which is due to open in a couple of weeks by the National Trust:
"It has been a number of years now since I unveiled the connections between the DUP and private developer Seymour Sweeney in the Assembly and challenged the DUPs intentions to approve that application. I am glad to see that the Trust has done a great job of the new centre and has provided local employment in doing so. I have spoken to a number of tradesmen, builders and stonemasons here today from the Ballycastle area who have benefitted directly from the project.
"There will be opportunities to create further employment with the new golf development at Runkerry and that needs to move ahead as it will see the introduction of more sustainable jobs on the north coast for locals. The opposition to it now from the Trust is very late in the day and will only result in unnecessary delay. Tourism has the capacity to be a major job creator on the north coast over the coming years and we need to do all we can to facilitate that with the caveat that it does not impact adversely on the environment. Runkerry will complement the tourism infrastructure being put in place with the Marine Hotel re-opening, the potential of a second hotel in Ballycastle and the opening of a new Visitors Centre here at the Causeway. I don't believe that the Trust has the support of the public in blocking this application and they should reconsider."