Fewer than 10% of potential foreign investors check out the west of Northern Ireland.
New figures show that West Tyrone and Fermanagh-South Tyrone received not one of the 513 inward investment visits over the past three years.
Despite Londonderry being Northern Ireland’s second city, it has received just 30 visits over the same period, while East Londonderry received just 10.
John Dallat, SDLP MLA for East Derry, said that this stood in contrast to 132 visits to East Belfast and the 164 to South Belfast.
West Belfast secured just 26 visits while North Belfast got 64.
Mr Dallat received the investment information in response to his written question to Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.
He has now called for the west to be prioritised in light of the “embarrassing” findings.
Mr Dallat said: “These statistics show clearly that the big east-west divide is as great as ever with no effort being made by the minister to accept that she and Invest NI have a serious responsibility to ensure that new inward investment is directed to areas where there is chronic unemployment, mass emigration and businesses in decline.”
Mr Dallat added: “In her response Mrs Foster states that ‘Invest NI neither determines the locations for visits by a potential investor nor the location for an investment project’ but surely she has a grave responsibility to establish why more than 58% of visits in the last three years occurred in two constituencies in Belfast?”
An Invest NI spokeswoman said it works “to market all of Northern Ireland as an investment location”, adding: “We cannot allocate budgets by geographic areas. However, there is provision to offer higher levels of support towards capital investment and job creation projects located outside Belfast.
“Investors choose the locations they want to visit by looking at a number of factors including availability of skills or suitable infrastructure, and how well these meet the needs of their specific investment project. Invest NI then facilitates the visits to these areas.”
The Department for Enterprise, said it had nothing to add.
Investment visits in 3 years:
- Fermanagh-South Tyrone 0
- West Tyrone 0
- East Londonderry 10
- Foyle 30
- West Belfast 26
- North Belfast 64
- East Belfast 132
- South Belfast 164