Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for the Economy what steps his Department is taking to promote Mid Ulster as part of Northern Ireland’s tourism product.
Minister for the Economy: Tourism NI continues to promote Northern Ireland (NI) as a leading tourism and short break destination since the lifting of travel restrictions, in May 2021 in Northern Ireland, and June 2021 in the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
An integral part of Tourism NI’s Recovery Strategy, Tourism NI’s positive consumer focused campaigns highlight the many ways people can embrace Northern Ireland’s giant spirit, including Mid Ulster. The campaigns promote Northern Ireland as a destination, highlighting specific attractions and experiences, which resonate with key target visitors.
Tourism Northern Ireland promoted Mid Ulster area, in the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland markets in their Summer 2022 campaign, and it will be featured again in their Autumn 2022 Campaign.
Tourism Northern Ireland’s 2022 campaign activity, in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, featured the Mid-Ulster and surrounding area, including experiences such as Lough Neagh Tours, Seamus Heaney HomePlace and Woodlab Distillery.
Tourism businesses in Mid Ulster are also invited to apply for funding support from the Tourism Northern Ireland Co-operative Marketing fund, to support their own promotional activity in the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland markets.
Tourism NI also works closely with all 11 local authorities. Since Spring 2021, Tourism NI has provided a further £71,750 in funding support for marketing activity undertaken by Mid Ulster District Council.
Working in partnership with Tourism Ireland, so far in 2022, Tourism NI has hosted 11 international media and film crews visits within the Mid Ulster area, from the Great Britain, American and Austrian markets. Their itineraries included experiences such as Ardtara Country House, Heaney Homeplace, Lough Neagh Stories and St Patrick’s Chair.
Tourism Northern Ireland continues to work closely with the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) network, who collaborate with their tourism industry to upload information on the local area to Tourism Northern Ireland’s consumer website, discovernorthernireland.com.
As part of a Market Led Product Development Programme in 2021-22, Tourism NI provided £265k to Mid Ulster Council to undertake a number of destination enhancement activities including delivery of a Living History Programme and delivery of 2 new light installations at OM Dark Sky Visitor Centre, Davagh. In addition, as part of an Experience Development funding programme in 2020-21, Tourism NI provided a combined total of approx £450k of capital funding to a number of tourism businesses in the Mid Ulster area.
Furthermore, Tourism NI are working closely with Council partners, including Mid Ulster council, to progress all of the potential tourism projects within the £252m Mid South West Growth Deal. Tourism NI has previously assisted with tour operator testing of project concepts in the Mid Ulster area and is in the process of arranging extensive testing with consumers in key international markets.