Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Let's dazzle world with a full charm offensive

That was quite a day for the Northern Ireland economy and quite a turnaround for Fermanagh.

Having just had to deal with news of redundancies at Liberty, the old Quinn Insurance arm, the western county has received a shot in the arm which scarcely seemed possible when it first came to light last week. News that the the G8 Summit is heading for the Lough Erne Golf Resort is a coup for Fermanagh and a coup for Northern Ireland.

The significant benefits that such an event can bring in financial terms shouldn't be underestimated because when the leaders of eight of the world's most wealthy nations gather together they don't do things by half.

Aside from their own entourages they'll also have a media pack in tow, one which would give the Olympics press pack a run for their money in terms of size.

But overshadowing the immediate monetary benefits which will come from the event, the longer-term PR boost will be massive. In fact, it has already started.

How often does the Prime Minister come here and wax lyrical to the world's press about how beautiful Northern Ireland is or how good a place it is to do business?

Not often, and you can be sure that there'll rarely be a better opportunity to impress the leaders of countries which account for over 50% of the world's GDP, nevermind have them come to visit you.

It may be a worrying statistic that such economic power sits in the hands of so few but in these times of economic strife we need to be concentrating on putting on the full charm offensive for the two days of the summit.

If they like what they see and want to do business with us then they only need to look at the story to the left which reveals how our air links are stronger than ever before. That may seem like a small matter but for multinational companies transportation links - whether it be air, sea, rail or road - are key when considering setting up base or visiting a supplier.

With any luck, the leaders of the G8 nations will go back to their respective countries after the summit and repeat David Cameron's words that Northern Ireland is a beautiful place but, more importantly, a great place to do business.

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