Belfast Telegraph

Potential growth in tourism sector must be grasped

By David Elliot

Northern Ireland has a huge opportunity to build the tourism industry, one of the Bank of England's key decision makers said on a visit here.

Paul Fisher, who sits on the bank's Monetary Policy Committee which sets interest rates each month, was on a two-day visit on behalf of the bank to test the mood of the local business community.

He also spent the weekend in Belfast and the north coast with his family and was impressed with his short break.

"There's a tremendous opportunity to grow tourism," he said.

"One of the things that struck me on arrival was that you have 6% of the UK's land mass and only 3% of the population... and you've got areas of outstanding natural beauty here."

He said a move away from manufacturing and into the service sector had proved successful for other UK regions, and there is plenty of opportunity for Northern Ireland to do the same in tourism and other service related industries.

The central banker also said we should be trying to woo all types of investment, by creating a good climate for business.

"We should be pushing supply-side policies, pro-business, and pro-growth, things that don't cost a lot of public money to put in place," he said.

"I'd not worry about whether it's foreign investment but embrace any sort of investment."

He said achieving such a climate is not up to government but the responsibility of the private sector. "A lot of it is down to hard work and initiative. People taking responsibility, taking charge and doing what they want to do in local regions such as the north east of England and Scotland. I'm sure that possibility exists here too," he added.

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