Sinn Féin MLA Rosie McCorley has called on tourism bodies North and South to promote the Irish language and culture when marketing Ireland abroad.
Speaking after meeting tourism chiefs at a meeting of the Culture, Arts and Leisure committee, the West Belfast MLA said;
"The Irish language is part of Ireland's rich cultural heritage and is an obvious draw to attract tourists.
"Our culture is one of our unique selling point for tourists.
"Those tasked with bringing visitors to Ireland have already said they are keen to attract what they describe as culturally conscious tourists. It stands to reason therefore that the Irish language should be part of the package they are promoting.
"To date all of the major tourism bodies have missed the huge opportunities presented by the Irish language. They need to start looking at including it in all aspects of their marketing of Ireland as a tourist destination.
"Our Gaeltacht areas, both rural and urban, placenames, and the wide variety of innovative Irish language projects and organisations right across the island could have a key role in helping to develop our tourism economy.
“As well as calling on the tourism bodies to wake up to the opportunities of Irish and include it in their marketing strategies, Irish language groups also have a role to play in working with others to maximise the tourist potential of our native language."