Belfast Telegraph

‘Tourism needs to be big part of economy’

Titanic Quarter chief executive David Gavaghan will bring his message about the potential of the development to Australia this week.

He will be a guest at the Brisbane Global Cafe, taking place just before the G20 global leaders conference. And as well as flying the flag for Titanic Quarter, he said he will argue the case for air links between Asia and Belfast.

And he will be joined in that mission by Co Down-born Martin Craigs, chief executive of the Pacific Asia Travel Assocation.

Mr Craigs said he believed Northern Ireland should work harder to attract visitors from Asia, particularly China.

"For many people in Asia, Titanic is a film rather than a ship, and they love the romance and the tragedy of the film. But they come to the building and is totally captivating - it's our Sydney Opera House."

The Chinese were travelling overseas in ever greater numbers, he said. There were 10m Chinese travelling outside China in 2000, 2012 saw 80m travelling - and he forecast that there would be 400m by 2025.

Northern Ireland was operating in a more global market of travel and tourism than ever.

And Mr Craigs and Mr Gavaghan said Northern Ireland had to work harder to promote itself to overseas tourists flying into Dublin, and to create an incentive to "turn left" and travel north.

Mr Craigs said he believed Northern Ireland should have more confidence about its "authentic" tourism offering.

"It's often been my opinion - living for more than 25 years overseas and then coming back - that there's a poverty of ambition in Northern Ireland."

He gave credit to Visit Belfast and the Tourist Board for its efforts to show off the 'authentic tourism' in the province but added:

"You must make tourism a much, much bigger part of the economy. It creates jobs faster and more cost-effectively than any other area."

Belfast Telegraph