Belfast Telegraph

Stormont gets Derry City of Culture lowdown

By Donna Deeney

Stormont was given an invite to become part of the story of the City of Culture when a delegation from the city shared details with the Tourism Minister Arlene Foster of how Londonderry is progressing towards 2013.

Led by chief executive of Derry City Council Sharon O'Connor, the team told how more than £100m will be invested in infrastructure. They heard how an economic and tourism profile will be gained through welcoming thousands of visitors for events this year and through City of Culture 2013.

She said: “From public realm improvements, opening of new event and community spaces, business skills programmes, volunteer initiatives and public and private sector partnerships the city is counting down to world class events in 2012 and 2013.

She added: “Whether it is cultural, trade or tourism connections, 2012 is a new opportunity to be positive about the future and send out a global invite to come home for two great years of celebrations and change.”

Derry Mayor Maurice Devenney said that significant investment has already been made in the city in preparation for 2012.

He said: “This will help grow the economy and leave a lasting creative, social and cultural legacy for all communities.

“It’s the start of a significant countdown to 2013 and the partnership and support to make the city a successful destination for business and tourism is better than ever.”

Mrs Foster welcomed the progress made to date.

She said: “We are now entering an unprecedented time of opportunity for tourism in Northern Ireland.

“Londonderry has a vital part to play in showing the world the unique and exciting tourist experience we have to offer.

“Recent investment in the visitor economy means tourism here is ready to take advantage of the worldwide interest that will be generated during 2012.”

\[Shane Donaghey\]”With the Walled City designated as one of Northern Ireland’s Signature Projects and completed capital projects such as the refurbishment of the Tower Museum, the construction of the Peace Bridge and the new Ebrington site all contributing to the transformation of this city, Londonderry can now promise a world-class visitor experience.

“We are entering one of the most exciting periods in the city’s future as we open our doors to the world.

“Each of us in our own way can influence and help to create a step change not only in tourism in Londonderry, but a change in Northern Ireland itself.”background

Tourism generates approximately £30m for the local economy, encourages 165,700 overnight visitors and supports 616,500 bed nights for the city and region. And the continued growth in the conference market is expected to add £2m to the city’s business tourism economy in 2012 in addition to the increasing interest from conference business for 2013.\[Shane Donaghey\]

The city is hosting a series of world class events this year while it prepares for City of Culture 2013. The Olympic Festival at St Columb’s Park 1st – 04th June, brings the arrival of the Olympic Flame to the region. This is followed by the Peace One Day concert on 21 June. The headline act is Massive Attack with other big names expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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