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Fresh tourism ideas needed: Foster

Fresh thinking is needed if Northern Ireland is to succeed in the lucrative tourism market, Arlene Foster has claimed.

The tourism minister said improved air links, better internet promotion and maximum exploitation of social media were essential for attracting more visitors next year.

“The current economic situation means fresh thinking is required if we are to tempt GB visitors to come to Northern Ireland,” she said.

“In its new strategy ‘GB Path to Growth’, Tourism Ireland will target specific market segments from the young, urban adventurers to the over-45s who want to explore the landscapes, history and culture we have on offer.”

Last week, official government figures reported a large drop in tourist numbers last year — despite the huge NI2012 Our Time Our Place promotional campaign.

Speaking at the launch of a new £15m marketing drive for 2013, Ms Foster said the UK City of Culture status for Londonderry would play a major role in helping to sell the region overseas. She also urged tour operators and hoteliers to re-double their efforts to ensure Northern Ireland pulled ahead of the pack.

Ms Foster added: “I have no doubt that the legacy of Northern Ireland 2012 will stand us in good stead for the future.

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“Despite the gloom, I do believe we do have exciting times ahead.”

A revamped Tourism Ireland website is expected to go live in three weeks. Promoters are also hoping to enlist celebrity ambassadors.

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