A Derry tourism plan heralded as having the potential to increase visitor numbers to the city has been “hampered” due to a lack of funding.
The disclosure is contained in a report issued by the North’s Audit Office (NIAO) to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The publication - from Comptroller and Auditor General Kieran Donnelly - focuses on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s (NITB) Signature Projects - including Derry’s Walled City Project.
The Walled City Project is based around the theme of the city’s historic walls and its archaelogical and cultural heritage and incorporates the refurbishment and redevelopment of a number of key visitor attractions and built heritage assets within the Walled City.
Phase I of the project - the main aspects of which have been completed - consists mainly of visitor signage and orientation around the Walls, the refurbishment of the Tower Museum and the development of a conservation and management plan.
It was estimated to cost around £5 million, with just under £3 million provided through NITB.
Phase II - the delivery of which has been stymied due to lack of funding - includes a built heritage programme incorporating seven historic buildings, a lighting strategy and a business and cultural animation programme.
It was estimated to cost around £22 million, with NITB funding of around £11 million.
However, according to the NIAO, lack of dedicated funding has “hampered” the delivery of phase II.
While both the lighting strategy and two of the outstanding built heritage projects have now secured funding and are planned for completion by March 2013, two remaining built heritage projects have yet to secure funding from NITB and, as a result, it is unclear when these projects are likely to complete.