Derry’s MP has welcomed moves to maximise the city’s visitor experience by developing a ‘big league’ tourism project.
Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion says a standout ‘signature project’ for Derry is crucial if it is to realise its potential as a top destination for visitors.
The ‘Journal’ recently revealed that a major tourist attraction is being devised by Derry City & Strabane District Council to ‘activate the story of Derry’ and increase visitor numbers and jobs.
It’s understood the riverside attraction - which will tie into the Ebrington and Walled City landmark sites - is still at development proposal stage.
It’s believed the Derry project - alongside other flagship developments around the North - will provide the “hooks that attract visitors to travel around NI and provide opportunities for the private sector to create products and services for visitors to the areas.”
Elisha McCallion says that, in recent years, Derry has made great progress in attracting visitors.
“There is no doubt it has so much to offer for tourists,” she added. “Those involved in the tourism sector have been doing great work but, in order to reach our full potential, the development of a signature tourism project for Derry is long overdue.
“Other cities have key signature projects which enable them to attract huge numbers of tourists and I welcome the fact that Derry City and Strabane District Council have undertaken a programme of work to develop such a project here.
“We already have so much to offer for tourists but there is now a need for a key project to build on that offer. That will involve those involved in the industry working together and cooperating to deliver such an initiative.
“I am happy to continue meeting with those involved in the local tourism industry to facilitate discussion on what that project may look like so we can take it forward and help Derry reach its full tourism potential.”
For example, the potential for Derry to attract more cruise ship visitors if plans for a deepwater cruise terminal at Greencastle go ahead was referred to at a recent meeting of tourism chiefs.
The NI Tourism Alliance - set up in August 2018 to lobby for the tourism sector in the North - mentioned the ‘Signature Creative Experience’ in its submission to the NI Affairs Committee’s ongoing tourism inquiry.
It said: “Cruise tourism is a growing sector in the NW with 18 cruise calls and an estimated 10,000 passengers due in 2019.
“The release of capital funding to implement the recommendations of a Donegal County Council/DC&SDC feasibility on the development of Greencastle Harbour as a deep water port will provide a significant uplift in cruise visits to the region.”