Few in Derry could deny the clear and obvious benefits the City of Culture celebrations have brought to the city and the entire north west region.
The sense of optimism and pride in our surroundings is palpable and the city is enjoying an international standing like never before.
While all of these things are important, what has been less quantifiable has been the economic impact to the city to date. Anecdotally, with the large numbers of visitors coming to the city throughout the year, particularly with the massive influx of people who came to Derry for Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, there has been a growing sense that the local hospitality industry has received a much-needed shot in the arm.
Tourism chiefs have reported record numbers of people visiting the city for successive months during the summer, confirming the city’s status as an up-and-coming hotspot.
Now, the latest business report produced by the Ulster Bank appears to confirm perceptions of a general upturn, with indications that the private sector in the North is showing clear signs of recovery, recording the fastest growth in six years.
It specifically highlights the growth of the retail sector and the service industry.
While it can often be difficult to see practical examples of the findings of such economic reports, the successful summer in Derry stands as a clear example.
For years economists, politicians, tourism providers and business leaders have been championing the hospitality and tourism sectors as key drivers for Derry’s economy, Now, with the successes of recent months, it is clear what can be achieved.
This growth must now be used as a springboard to drive the entire economy forward to new heights with sustainable, well-paid jobs.