Northern Ireland hopes to benefit from Wild Atlantic Way tourism drive
Northern Ireland hopes to enjoy a tourism boost from a major promotion push in the Republic for the Wild Atlantic Way.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said she'd already raised the issue with Tourism Ireland.
"We are keen that people who take the Wild Atlantic Way to Donegal move over into Londonderry and across into Antrim and Down to appreciate what we have to offer here in Northern Ireland," she told MLAs.
The Assembly also heard the City of Culture, Police and Fire Games and the G8 summit helped push up visitor numbers from outside the UK by 7%. But 'NI incorporated' also wants a greater slice of the six million people who arrive via Dublin Airport every year.
"It is very important that we work with the tour operators to make sure that Northern Ireland is on the agenda of visitors arriving on the island through Dublin," she added. We believe that, if we are able to get on the major tour operators' agendas, we will be able to draw visitors to Northern Ireland when they are on organised tours of the island," she said.
She added: "UK City of Culture, the World Police and Fire Games and the G8 summit last year raised our profile with our colleagues in Great Britain."
Her DUP colleague Paul Frew said the Wild Atlantic Way is being heavily promoted in the Republic.
To laughter, he asked: "What can be done to ensure that tourists who travel the Wild Atlantic Way continue on across the border to the gorgeous Causeway coast, the most beautiful part of Europe and maybe even the world?"
Ms Foster replied: "We have, of course, spoken to Tourism Ireland about this issue. The Wild Atlantic Way seems to be the key element of the Republic of Ireland's tourism message."
The SDLP's Alban Maginness said he noted that Tourism Ireland held its most recent meeting in Belfast's Crumlin Road Gaol which he commended as a venue for meetings of other public bodies.
The Wild Atlantic Way will be Ireland's first long-distance driving route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Co Cork, offering future visitors an opportunity to truly discover the west coast. The 2,500km route was finalised after a comprehensive public consultation process and 156 strategically placed discovery points have been identified along the way.