The Bogside area of Derry could soon see the same volume of tourists as West Belfast, a local councillor has said.
Sinn Féin councillor and Triax community tourism co-ordinator Mickey Cooper made the comment after securing a meeting with the Tourist Board and VisitWestBelfast.
Colr. Cooper said he hoped the move would lead to the Bogside, Creggan and Bishop Street/Fountain areas would receive a major tourism boost.
The Sinn Féin colr. also said he would lobby for the areas to receive practical assistance to develop further tourism based projects.
Colr. Cooper said the meeting, which will take place at the end of October, follows on from a number of engagements carried out over the summer to increase tourist numbers in the areas.
In August Colr. Cooper and Maeve McLaughlin MLA convened a meeting with a number of groups who provide tourism services in the areas including Derry City Council, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, NI Tourist Board and local tour guides.
“The TRIAX community tourism group have been working on a voluntary basis to develop tourism infrastructure and promotional materials for the Bogside, Creggan and Fountain/Bishop Street areas to ensure the economic potential of tourism is harnessed in the area in a way that also benefits the local community,” Colr. Cooper said.
The Northland Colr. said the areas already have attractions for tourists.
“This has seen the development of new coach parking facilities, tourism signage, new street paving and the further development of the Museum of Free Derry, Aras Colmcille, the Gasyard Heritage Centre and tour guide training for republican ex-prisoners and their families, Apprentice Boys and Fountain residents,” he said.
Colr. Cooper also said the involvement of the Tourist Board will help expand tourism services in the city. “Although some of this work was supported by Derry City Council, we were always disadvantaged by the fact that the Tourist Board were not involved in this process, which always meant the area was never properly promoted on an international basis.
“I therefore welcome the fact that the Tourist Board have agreed to meet me at the end of the month to explore how they can become integrated into the work of the TRIAX tourism group,” he added.
The colr. also said Derry can learn from the example of West Belfast, which attracts large amounts of tourists interested in the recent history of the North.
“I am especially pleased that VisitWestBelfast, the community tourism group promoting the Falls and Shankill areas have agreed to offer their own insights and knowledge to ensure that the TRIAX community tourism strategy can develop to the same levels of success.”