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Any new Gathering initiative should be on 32 County basis – Flanagan

2 July, 2015 - by Phil Flanagan

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has called for any future tourism initiative similar to The Gathering 2013 undertaken by the Irish government to be under the auspices of Tourism Ireland and carried out on an all-island basis to maximise its potential.

Speaking after Tourism Minister Pascal Donohoe revealed in Dublin yesterday that the proposal was under consideration in the Seanad, Mr Flanagan, Deputy Chair of the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee, said:

"The Gathering 2013 presented a fantastic opportunity to showcase Ireland to people around the world who have a connection with this island.

"However, the approach taken to this initiative which excluded the 6 North-Eastern counties

meant it was not as successful as it could have been.

“This disjointed approach to tourism promotion is counterproductive and needs re-examining. Tourism Ireland was established to market the ‘island’ of Ireland overseas and should be done in a way that promotes the whole island to its full potential not as separate entities.

"Similar approaches have been taken to the promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Malin Head, but stops at the border with Derry, where a separate route, the Causeway Coastal route begins.

"And the promotion of Ireland's Ancient East, while taking in counties on the eastern seaboard excludes Ireland's second city of Belfast

"These are missed opportunities for promotion of our tourism sector. We need to see better joined-up marketing strategies working on an all-island basis so that tourists are exposed to the entire rich experience available to them in all 32 counties of Ireland.

“I would encourage Tourism Officials North and South to collaborate in and explore all the mutual benefits that would flow from promoting the island as a single tourism destination which I believe would deliver significant economic dividends."

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