Tourism NI and other groups must help ensure Derry’s Hallowe’en celebrations continue to get bigger and better, local Councillors have said.
The issue was raised as the Council’s Business & Culture Committee were told this week that the celebrations in 2017 were the most successful ever held, with plans to extend the festival next year.
Council’s Head of Culture Aideen McCarter told the Committee that Council officers have held two meetings over the last couple of months with Tourism NI representatives to ensure that the event is now recognised in their International Event Fund.
An application to this fund is due to be submitted this month, seeking a significant financial contribution from Tourism NI, and also to ensure “that the international reputation of the event is recognised by all”. If successful, additional funding will enhance the overall programming and marketing activity in particular to wider international markets, the Committee was told.
The Council is also actively trying to identify a commercial sponsor for the 2018 event and have presented packages to four companies to date, she said. Speaking at the meeting, Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Cooper said: “In terms of performance, last year again we exceeded all expectations. It’s an international festival and already has been for a number of years recognised by USA Today and others. Tourism NI has never adopted that approach.”
Colr. Cooper said that visitor numbers for this time of year would be a lot lower without the Hallowe’en festival “so we are doing the Tourism Board a favour,” he said.
“A successful application to the International Events Fund should be a no brainer,” he said.
“Tourism NI should go out of their way to facilitate Council in whatever way possible. We are helping them, they are duty bound to help us. This event has proved itself over and over again,” he said.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly concurred that the festival now had such a reach across the globe, “surely the likes of Tourism NI and others should be wading in with sponsorship and helping this Council put on an even bigger event this year.”