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Dramatic increase in tourism shows effectiveness of All-Ireland Bodies

30 September, 2004

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Tourism, North Antrim MLA, Philip McGuigan, has said that the marketing of Ireland as a unitary tourist product has made a significant contribution to the Tourist Industry in the North.

Mr McGuigan said:

"The opening of a direct link between New York and Belfast would be a progressive and much-welcomed boost to tourism here in the north of Ireland.

"There is no doubt that the Tourism Industry has been one of the major beneficiaries of the Peace Process, and that it offers great potential for local community development in our most disadvantaged areas.

"Tourism Ireland, which markets and promotes Ireland as a single entity abroad, and which was set up as part of the Good Friday Agreement has obviously brought benefits to the industry here. A more integrated approach to tourism on an All-Ireland basis will bring even more benefits to the economy.

This demonstrates the effectiveness of the All-Ireland institutions. However, Tourism Ireland still has an extremely limited remit that, if widened, could warrant even more success for the Industry.

"The new international routes that have opened up this year, to destinations such as Spain and the Czech Republic, highlight the need to invest much more into the underdeveloped tourism infrastructure here in the north.

"I would urge Barry Gardiner to waste no further time in starting to implement the Tourist Masterplan on the North Coast. This document holds great potential for the indigenous tourist industry in areas like the Glens and Ballycastle where the tourism potential has yet to be fully realised.

"The increase of flights into Belfast and the announcement that the Ramada Group are to build 30 more hotels throughout Ireland come during a period when Ireland is increasingly being marketed as a unitary tourist product. It makes little sense for this industry to be continually marketed by two separate bureaucratic agencies that can only be of further detriment to the industry." ENDS

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