Bring back Red Hand of Ulster as Northern Ireland Tourist Board's logo: Ukip
Published 19/02/2014 | 10:00
A prominent politician has claimed Northern Ireland's tourism industry would benefit from joining forces with the rest of the UK, rather than remaining a "poor partner" with the Republic.
UK Independence Party MLA David McNarry also urged the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) to reinstate the Red Hand of Ulster as its logo.
His comments come as the province gears up to host the Giro d'Italia in May, which is expected to attract around 140,000 overnight visitors.
Mr McNarry said it was time to open the door for tourists and suggested the Red Hand be used as a tourist logo. He also called on NITB to realign with Visit Britain and gain benefits from sharing in the UK's status as a major tourist destination, attracting 30 million visitors annually.
"It's about time we cut to the chase on tourism and give Northern Ireland a better than even chance of gaining from joint promotions with England, Scotland and Wales, rather than remain the poor partner in Tourism Ireland, which attracts six million visitors into the Irish Republic, the bulk of which never venture into Northern Ireland," he said.
"In fact, we should do both by enhancing tourist interests across the island of Ireland and the whole of the UK."
This month the Belfast Telegraph revealed planned new long-haul routes from Northern Ireland to Toronto and Abu Dhabi will not be introduced this year, raising fears our main airport is being allowed to stagnate and Belfast International Airport has little or no future as an international hub without Government help.