Belfast Telegraph

Craft map for tourists goes live

An interactive map to help tourists on the hunt for Northern Ireland craftwork has gone online.

Visitors looking for pottery, paintings and other locally made products can now click to find out exactly where are the best places to look.

Tourism minister Arlene Foster launched Craft Northern Ireland's online resource during a visit to the Priory Cottages Art, Craft and Design Studios in Benburb, Co Tyrone.

It went live to mark the beginning of Craft Month - an initiative which supports artists and encourages people to experience the local craft industry.

Sixty craft exhibitions, workshops and talks will take place in more than 40 venues across Northern Ireland in the coming four weeks.

Mrs Foster said: "The craft industry in Northern Ireland is a diverse, vibrant, growing sector that has the capability of enhancing the visitor experience and moreover in return, create opportunities for our visitors to spend their money on quality craft.

"Initiatives such as August Craft Month and the online Craft Map, which lists comprehensive details of designer-makers, craft studios and outlets throughout Northern Ireland, are vital in showcasing the wealth of skills on offer. They raise the visibility of our craft industry and engage locals and visitors in the quality of our craft providers."

The minister was welcomed to Priory Cottages by the director of Craft NI Joe Kelly, who took her on the tour of the studios, meeting resident makers including potter Stephen Farnan and basket weaver Alison Fitzgerald.

Mrs Foster said: "This is a perfect example of the type of facility that can attract increased numbers of tourists. Visitors to the Craft Studios in Benburb cannot fail to be impressed by the fantastic work taking place in one of the most idyllic locations imaginable."

Highlighting the potential of the craft industry in Northern Ireland, Mr Kelly said: "The craft industry in Northern Ireland currently employs around 1,900 people and contributes £39 million GVA (gross value added) to the Northern Ireland economy, but there is much scope for growth. We need to continue to invest in talents and entrepreneurial skills of our emerging designer makers in order to grow the contribution of the craft sector."

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