McLaughlin calls for 'The Gathering' to be promoted as all-Ireland project.
Sinn Féin Tourism Spokesperson, Maeve McLaughlin MLA (Foyle) has called on Minister Arlene Foster to reverse her decision not to cooperate with the Irish government's tourist project being marketed worldwide for 2013 under the banner of 'The Gathering'.
Maeve McLaughlin said:
"I believe that failure to capitalise on the tourism opportunity provided by the Irish government's promotion 'The Gathering' directed at the worldwide Irish diaspora encouraging as many of them as possible to make a trip home in 2013 would be unbelievably short-sighted.
"Minister Foster's rationale for not grasping the opportunity to increase tourist numbers on the back of this major international promotion displays a small-minded parochial attitude that would seem to be based on the fact that the appeal is directed at the 'Irish' diaspora rather than on any objective analysis of the potential benefits.
"I met with Micheal Ring TD the Irish Minister for Tourism and Transport in Derry on Friday last. I got the impression that he is of the strong opinion that "The Gathering " event next year must encapsulate the whole island. Taking account of the City of Culture festivities also planned for 2013 and other events throughout the North it would be folly not to cooperate through Tourism Ireland by having all of these events included in the promotional literature being despatched around the world as part of promoting 'The Gathering'.
"Obviously in my discussions my emphasis was on promoting the North West in terms of next year and City of Culture and our commitments to incorporate and ultise the assets of our hinterland of Donegal. What better vehicle to achieve the full tourism potential of the City of Culture and the North West than to have it included in 'The Gathering' programme of events.
"I will be encouraging my Ministerial colleagues in the Executive to take every opportunity at all-Ireland Ministerial Council meetings to have this issue on the agenda.
"In the meantime I intend to maintain contact with Minister Ring to ensure that Derry and the North West benefits as much as possible from any potential spin-off from this major tourism promotion." CRÍOCH