Shock lack of tourism funds for North West

Sinn Fein Councillor Maeve McLaughlin
Sinn Fein Councillor Maeve McLaughlin

Stormont needs to redress the shocking under investment in tourism funding west of the Bann, a Derry Sinn Fein councillor has said.

Maeve McLaughlin says the “continuing disjointed approach to tourism development and marketing on this island is counterproductive and needs re-evaluated.”

The Derry councillor says an all-island body is needed to promote tourism across Ireland.

“A single all-Ireland body to promote all aspects of the tourist product available to visitors to this island is the logical and most economical approach to maximise tourist spend and experience,” she says.

Her comments come after new figures show that only 8% of tourism funding - a total of £5.4million - across the north was allocated to Derry over the last five years.

Limavady council area received just around 0.1% while Strabane District Council area received absolutely nothing from the north’s Tourist Board since 2006.

Over the same time frame Belfast was allocated more than £40million, while Moyle received almost £10million. A total of £65million of toruism funding was allocated to the north’s district council areas since 2006

Ms McLaughlin says the north’s tourism minister must act to counter the imbalance.

“It is time that investment decisions, whether it be infrastructure, business or tourism are made in the best interests of all the people of the Region and not just the Greater Belfast Metropolitan area and places East of the Bann.

“Unexpectedly, as with other areas of investment, the majority of the funding has been targeted at the Belfast City Council area, which received approximately 60% of the tourism total capital spend since 2006.

“This is in stark contrast to investment by NI Tourist Board for infrastructural development and events promotion in the tourism industry in the Border Region.

“Despite accounting for more than 25% of the north’s population, and more than 20% of the total tourist spend, the number of overseas visitors and the number of overnight stays, the border corridor only received 12% of the total capital expenditure from the Tourist Board and less than 15% of events funding.

“When promoting the tourism theme, Arlene Foster is constantly telling us that this is ‘Our Time, Our Place’ and “Our Year of Opportunity’ but judging from the figures these slogans up until now have only applied to Greater Belfast and parts of the North Coast.

“I am in daily contact with business owners from all political persuasions, who constantly tell me how the border damages their business through this disjointed approach and absence of cooperative marketing of the Region as a single tourist product. If narrow political hang-ups were set to one side, then the economic opportunities in tourism would be immense,” she says.