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Foster needs to ensure areas of social need benefit from tourism strategy.

27 November, 2008

Sinn Fein MLA for West Belfast, Paul Maskey has stated today that Arlene Foster as Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister needs to ensure that areas of high social need benefit from any tourism strategy. This follows the announcement by the ETI Minister that Tourism Ireland will be "vigorously promoting" the North as a tourist destination over the next year.

Mr Maskey said:

"Any initiative to promote tourism is welcomed however it must be a balanced approach with all the stakeholders in the tourism sector included and supported.

"Many tourism projects in areas of social need have proved to be both highly professional and successful. As such areas including West Belfast and the Shankill Road see thousands of tourists passing through each year.

"This however is the difficulty. The tourists are simply passing through. We need to see an investment strategy to build the tourism infrastructure in such areas . This would encourage tourist to stay and spend in the localities therefore boosting the local economies.

"Only recently a conference was held in the Culturlann on the Falls Road in Belfast in which over 100 local stake holders, including NITB, Tourism Ireland and Belfast City Council attended . All agreed that further financial investment by the Executive was necessary to sustain the current growth. Tourism is one of the few areas that we actually can invest in and see gains for in terms of job creation and economic development given the current economic climate.

"If the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minster, Arlene Foster, is serious about reaching the impressive yet challenging target to attract 2.5 million visitors and increase tourism revenue to £520 million by 2011 local initiatives needs must be met. This means that support for local enterprises alongside investment into the provision of accommodation into areas of social need ,who have built strong and attractive tourism projects, must be a priority."

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