Our future could be bright but violence damaging reputation

SDLP Councillor Sinead McLaughlin.
SDLP Councillor Sinead McLaughlin.

By Sinéad McLaughlin,

Derry City & Strabane District (DCSDC) SDLP Councillor

You just have to look around Derry City Centre to appreciate the influx of visitors that the city is hosting this year.

At a meeting of the Business & Culture Committee at DCSDC Members received a report and presentation from Visit Derry, which made for impressive reading. All indices are on an upward trajectory, overnight trips, hotel occupancy, room sales and also new bedroom stock with plans for more to come.

We have hit the magic figure of one million bed nights and the team at Visit Derry are ambitious for further tourism growth in the coming years as the city improves its product and ventures into new and emerging overseas markets.

It is hoped that the Tourism Sector will add 1000 more jobs into the city over the next five years.

This was indeed very welcome news but I could not help contrasting this upbeat and positive assessment against the back drop of growing tensions and violence that we have witnessed on our streets in recent days. The hard work of those that are trying to sell our City as a tourist destination is being trampled on by a few mindless thugs that are intent on taking hold of our communities. The cost of marketing our city internationally is being undermined.

As rioting and bomb alerts are shared by global media outlets our City’s reputation is being damaged.

The fallout of these terrorist attacks are not confined to the Tourism Sector but also on our ability to attract students considering to enrol on higher education courses and indeed investors seeking to set up in our city and region. However the greatest damage of all is the terrible repercussions and damage to the people in our own communities.

This City has a future and looking at the number of overseas visitors that grace our streets every day, it could be a good future, let’s not sabotage that with acts of self-harm.

I would call on all community and civic leaders to do all that they can to stop things spiralling out of control as it takes a long time to build a good reputation but unfortunately it takes very little to destroy it.

This city has worked too hard to see it all go down the tube.