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Potential of Community and Political tourism yet to be realised by DETI

9 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Tourism, West Belfast MLA Paul Maskey has said unionists should not run away from the debate about the potential of community political tourism to drive forward the growth of tourism. Mr Maskey was speaking following a major tourism conference, Tourism Tomorrow, Challenges and Opportunities in Newry today.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

'The number of visitors who are travelling to the North has increased greatly over the years and the expenditure that this brings is hundreds of millions of pounds every year to our economy.

'The tourism industry also sustains over 36,000 jobs in the North. But we have yet to reach our full potential of the number of jobs created or the visitor numbers and the expenditure that this brings.
'One key way of achieving this is to harness the huge potential of Community and Political Tourism. There are already a number of projects delivering tourism in these field that are operating successfully with increasing visitor number each year. The simple fact is many people come here to see the political and community history.

'However to enhance this we need to look at the areas where there are many thousands of visitors coming to see, but the local community haven't really benefited due to the lack of infrastructure and under investment from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

'This is one sure way of achieving the targets for tourism potential set out in the Programme for Government.' ENDS

Paul Maskey is chairperson of Fáilte Feirste Thiar, the West Belfast tourism initiative and a board member of the Belfast Visitor Convention Bureau.

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