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Sinn Féin press Tourist Board over lack of focus on Sperrins region

25 November, 2008 - by Michaela Boyle

Sinn Féin West Tyrone representatives Pat Doherty MP MLA and Claire McGill MLA have met with senior NI Tourist Board officials as part of an ongoing lobby to get the body to increase its focus on promoting tourism in the Sperrins region.

Following the meeting Claire McGill, who has been continually highlighting what she believes to be the neglect shown by NITB in promoting the Sperrins, said:

"This meeting was a constructive engagement with NITB officials. I re-iterated my view that NITB thinking was centred around its 'Signature Projects' resulting in areas of equal potential like the Sperrins region being neglected in terms of statutory investment and promotion from the body.

"The major disparity in funding awarded to the NITB's designated Signature Projects and projects in the Sperrins is the most obvious block in the way of the region fulfilling its tourist potential and resulting economic spin offs.

"NITB officials said that they would now examine the potential of integrating the Sperrins with one or more of the current Signature Projects. This would have a major beneficial impact. The NITB officials also acknowledged that there is a lack of signage across the 4 Scenic Driving Routes across the region and will be taking steps to rectify this.

Pat Doherty who raised the shortage of 'stop off' and tourist accommodation facilities in the region, said:

"I relayed one recent case where an application was made to the Planning Service for a project for additional tourist accommodation in the Mid-Tyrone area yet when Planning Service consulted with NITB, as a statutory consultee, the Tourist Board said there was no need for additional tourist accommodation in this area. This is despite the fact that Omagh District Council and Sperrin Tourism LTD have consistently raised the deficit of tourist accommodation.

"The need and demand for additional tourist accommodation was also clearly flagged up during the consultation into the Rural Development Programme.

"NITB officials agreed that they would now pro-actively engage with stakeholders in the region in terms of the provision of additional tourist accommodation and all parties to the meeting agreed to continue to the engage with a view to progress all the issues raised in terms of tourist promotion in the Sperrins." ENDS

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