Sinn Féin - On Your Side

New Rome & Berlin air routes can have huge benefits

13 January, 2005

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has welcomed the announcement that EasyJet is to begin direct air services from Belfast to Berlin and Rome in the summer.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Opening up these route could potentially bring thousands of visitors to the six counties. It has the potential to support the development of our tourist industry, to attract inward investment and to support overall economic growth.

"The success of the Air Route Development Fund in bringing new air routes to the north is helping to put us on the international business map, as well as contributing to the growth of the tourism.

"These new air route between Belfast and Rome and Berlin are good news for the local economy both in terms of the potential to directly create jobs and also in terms of developing trans European trade and tourism.

"The decision of easyJet to increase its services points to confidence in both the tourism market and a potential to build upon existing Euro trade. We need more direct strategic intervention to ensure that this potential is built upon by increasing support for local businesses in targeting European markets and a stronger focus on developing our tourist potential through strengthening the remit of Tourism Ireland.

"It is also vital that we put in place a regional transport strategy that maximises the benefits of expanding air travel routes beyond the Belfast Metropolitan Area and brings people up to Derry, into Fermanagh and Tyrone, down to Armagh and on across the border to the rest of Ireland. It is also important that we see greater support to the City of Derry Airport as a regional hub within the North West.

"Investment in our transport infrastructure, particularly in our rail and public transport networks, in a way that links us together with the rest of Ireland is essential if we are to make the most out of developments such as this." ENDS

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