Ian Paisley's ‘ranting and raving’ will turn US visitors off, says travel expert
A US travel expert has slammed DUP MP Ian Paisley for his "aggressive" language in calling for Northern Ireland tourist bodies to poach visitors from south of the border.
Broadcaster Stephanie Abrams, who has a syndicated radio show attracting almost 12m listeners and boasts 30m TV viewers, said she was "livid" about the comments.
"Regrettably I've met him, thankfully briefly, and only once," said Mrs Abrams, who enjoyed a career in the travel industry before turning to broadcasting 17 years ago.
"I spend up to 90 days a year in Ireland working with tourist bodies, and anyone who watches the shows or visits the website will see how much work I've put into showing Ireland, and by that I mean the whole of Ireland, in a positive way.
"I'd say half the shows I've produced have featured Ireland, and Northern Ireland in particular, very heavily. I love the place.
"Northern Ireland as a destination is advertised daily on radio and television in the south. There are commercials to be proud of on TV.
"But these comments just show he is very much ill-informed. Northern Ireland is marketing in the south of Ireland."
Mrs Abrams said Mr Paisley should be aware that "the aggressive language he has used" would only serve to turn tourists off.
She added: "It sends out the wrong image. There needs to be respect to other places people wish to travel to.
"In some respects a more aggressive marketing policy would be ideal, but perhaps the place for that is in the USA?
"Politicians should leave talking tourism to the experts.
"If I knew nothing about Northern Ireland and I saw these remarks, I'd probably never go there, as an American.
"Ranting and raving like this is not what people want to hear."
Stephanie Abrams, who lives in Massachusetts, showcases Northern Ireland heavily on her travel website at www.sabrams.com