Placing Derry on the map for art, culture, and sport

Last month, a delegation of business leaders from both sides of the border in the North West met with An Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Letterkenny. A very productive and useful engagement, we focused on issues as varied as cross-border collaboration in skills and higher education, local infrastructure, rail, road, and air connectivity, and the all-island Covid recovery.

Last month, a delegation of business leaders from both sides of the border in the North West met with An Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Letterkenny. A very productive and useful engagement, we focused on issues as varied as cross-border collaboration in skills and higher education, local infrastructure, rail, road, and air connectivity, and the all-island Covid recovery.

It was also agreed by everyone at the meeting that tourism is a vital sector which has the potential to accelerate growth and economic prosperity across the North West city region. While ensuring we have the skilled staff in place, the proper supports to help our hospitality and tourism businesses, and the best possible infrastructure to welcome visitors from around the world is crucial to having a world-class tourism offer, it’s equally important that we have things worth coming to see and experience.

There’s no doubt that Derry and the wider North West is steeped in culture and heritage and has a rich and proud history which is known the world over. And we rightly maximise it for both local and international visitors. The past number of weeks, however, have also proven our talents and strengths in hosting large scale events which attract droves of people from near and far to our city.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin meets with the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce President, Kristine Reynolds (L), and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President, Aidan O’Kane, at the Tata Consultancy Services offices in the Letterkenny Technology Park, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Photo by Joe Dunne 15/07/22

Since the beginning of July we’ve welcomed junior football teams from around the globe for the Foyle Cup. In this very column two weeks ago, the cup’s Chairman Michael Hutton estimated that the arrival of over 450 international football teams boosted our local economy by £3m, a fantastic shot in the arm for our businesses in what is the first ‘post-Covid’ summer. Always a popular and internationally renowned tournament, the cup’s parade of players through the city was a sight to behold and will live long in the memory for those involved.

A few weeks earlier, the LegenDerry Street Food Festival welcomed the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to the city with thousands traipsing up and down the quay to sample the best our local culinary scene has to offer. Derry has an exciting, vibrant, and diverse selection of restaurants and eateries to be proud of and one which is ever growing and evolving, showcasing cuisines from around the world.

Despite the best efforts of the bad weather as well, hundreds of thousands of people also turned out for the Foyle Maritime Festival. The full economic benefit of the festival won’t fully be known for a while yet but, going into the weekend, around 95% of hotel rooms in the city were filled, an indicator of the festival’s popularity. The boost to hotels, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and other local high street traders is invaluable and will come as a real help at a time of rising costs and spiralling inflation.

Beyond the economic benefits, however, these events and others like Féile also showcase what our city and region can do and what it can offer culturally. We have something to be incredibly proud of in Derry and there’s no reason why our city shouldn’t be a leading location for events and festivals across the island of Ireland.

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We know ourselves that our city and region has so much to offer, both culturally and historically. But by attracting large scale events, big name musicians and artists, and sporting events to Derry, we can attract more visitors, more tourists, and more revenue to our city which boosts local businesses, creates and sustains jobs, and firmly places Derry as a leading international location for culture, sport, and art.