Northern Ireland tourism chiefs reject Australia's dissident warnings
Tourism chiefs hit back yesterday after Australians were warned by their government to beware of the dissident republican threat in Northern Ireland.
Travellers from Down Under have been warned to be alert to their security in a sign of the heightened threat.
Earlier this year police said the danger from dissidents was at its worst since the 1998 Real IRA Omagh blast which killed 29 people. There have been a series of failed bomb attacks on members of the security forces and one in Lurgan, Co Armagh, this month in which three children were injured.
A Northern Ireland Tourist Board spokeswoman said recent years had showed a huge increase in the number of visitors to Northern Ireland and the vast majority see the province as a safe and secure destination.
"Those who come here enjoy our rich heritage and stunning scenery and they see for themselves a new and optimistic destination. This is by far the experience of the majority of our visitors," she said.
"Visitors can be assured of a warm and friendly welcome when they visit, and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, together with its industry partners, views tourism as central to the future economic growth of Northern Ireland."
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has warned citizens of bomb attacks aimed at police and military targets and said they should avoid demonstrations.
It said: "We advise you to be alert to your own security in Ireland."