Tourism Minister Arlene Foster must do much more to market Derry during its year as culture capital, local MLAs have said.
The minister yesterday announced £400,000 for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to market the city. But local assembly members have called on Ms Foster to implement a Derry City Council business case which states that £1.3m is needed to market the city to its full potential during 2013.
Welcoming the funding, Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin, said she hopes the money is just the first tranche of a series of investments in the marketing of the city this year. The business case now needs to be delivered on and Derry City Council must maintain the pressure to ensure that it is. There is a strong perception, not without foundation, that the Minister’s and Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s focus is on projects like the Titanic Quarter in Belfast and the Giants Causeway with areas West of the Bann only peripheral to their thinking. The announcement today of £400,000 is very welcome and I hope that it is just the first tranche of the expected £1.3 million.”
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood, who questioned the minister on delays to funding for the entire City Of Culture marketing campaign this week, added: “This news, although exceptionally late, is nevertheless welcome.”
“Thus far, two months into the year, there have been huge difficulties in co-ordinating a coherent and comprehensive marketing campaign to promote the various events which are on-going and planned for this year. Put simply, not enough people outside of Derry have heard about the City of Culture title.”