Tourism guru says city needs to capitalise on culture

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One of the world’s leading tourism authorities says the city must “cash in” on the huge opportunities currently being presented to it. The comments were made at a special seminar on Tourism Destination Development at the Tower Hotel at the end of a successful enterprise week in the city.

Canadian Tourism Guru Nancy Arsenault said the city now had a “unique” chance to leave an unforgettable impression on international tourists with the opportunities afforded by the City of Culture year. Her thoughts were echoed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board who said local businesses should aim to keep visitors returning to the city, year after year.

Addressing a packed hall of local business owners and key stakeholders at the Tower Hotel, Canadian Tourism expert Ms. Aresenault said: ”I just arrived last night and I was so impressed with the iconic structure of the Peace Bridge and the historic links of the city itself.”

“My first impressions are that Derry is certainly a city brimming with culture which gives it a huge differentiating advantage from a unique selling perspective. Businesses now need to develop and cultivate that and identify what a great experience means for the visitor, and how they can work together to create that unforgettable package. We are looking at a new type of traveller. There is an emerging demand for more meaningful experiences, which certainly opens up new opportunities for local business,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of NITB, Carolyn Boyd said: “We know that tourists don’t just judge a place by its products or services – it’s much more emotional. Visitors judge by their personal experiences, and at the Tourist Board we are encouraging businesses to identify what they can offer by providing them with a toolkit of hints and tips, and urging companies to establish mutually beneficial links to deliver those memorable experiences of the city. We call it starting a conversation, and it’s all about creating a legacy - bringing the visitors back next year, and the year after.”

Mary Blake, Tourism Officer with Derry City Council, said council would offer support to businesses looking at new strategies during the coming months.

“I am delighted that the event was such a success, providing the opportunity for local businesses to draw on the extensive experience and insight of our experts in the tourism market. 2013 is such an important year for the city, and one of immense opportunity for local business, especially during the current economic downturn.

“We want to get the message out there that all local companies should be identifying new strategies, and we can offer them the support they need to establish niches within the tourism market to suit their business,” she said.