Belfast Telegraph

Robinson and McGuinness tee off tourism bonanza at White House

By Clare Weir

The US President and assembled business figures in America have heard how Northern Ireland is the number one holiday destination this year.

The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister briefed a 400-strong crowd in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center before going on to the White House to meet Barack Obama.

The headlines made by golf's Rory McIlroy and snooker's Mark Allen, the Oscar-winning performance of director Terry George's short film The Shore, and Belfast's continued association with HBO's Emmy award-winning Game of Thrones, have all been cited as key draws to Northern Ireland.

Peter Robinson said that the Executive is placing a strong emphasis on the arts and sport among the key ingredients of economic regeneration.

"Next month will see a dynamic, purpose-built centre for the arts opening in Belfast - The MAC - where local talent can be supported and where we can conjure up our own field of dreams.

"And it is why we are delighted that Royal Portrush golf course will be hosting the Irish Open this summer for the first time in more than 60 years.

"Meanwhile, April heralds the opening of Titanic Belfast which offers the visitor a bold and exciting adventure through the life and times of the great liner. Then in the summer we will be opening the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre - an attraction which we rightly regard as one of the seven wonders of the world."

Martin McGuinness added that the next few years will give Northern Ireland the opportunity to showcase itself to the world.

"In a few months the opening of the new visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway will provide a real experience at the north's only World Heritage site while the visit of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to Derry in July will be a wonderful prelude to the great year that lies ahead as City of Culture in 2013," he said.

"Allied to our renowned warmth and hospitality, the north is now a must-see tourist destination."