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Council unveils ambitious new Tourism Strategy for Derry and Strabane

17 May 2018

Doubling tourism spend to £100m by 2025 and creating up to 1,000 new jobs in the tourism sector were among the key objectives outlined today by Derry City and Strabane District Council at the launch of its Tourism Strategy for 2018-2025.

The launch, which took place in the Guildhall, was attended by key stakeholders from across the Tourism Industry and was followed by the Tourism 2025 conference.

They heard more about the ambitious new strategy which centres around the District’s stunning and historic location, a cultural centre set where the wild Atlantic Way meets the Causeway Coastal Route.

Speaking at the event, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Maolíosa McHugh, described the Tourism Strategy as “dynamic and forward thinking”. And he told the packed audience that it demonstrated the fact that Council continues to recognise tourism as a key sector for economic growth and employment. “The Tourism Strategy includes a three-year action plan with over 60 actions across the product and experience, visitor servicing and destination marketing themes. It’s a very dynamic and exciting action plan that acknowledges a new level of ambition for the Council area and a real commitment to build on our current offering by investing in our remarkable history and heritage assets.

“At its core is the drive to draw more overnight visitors, who have the time to explore and enjoy the many attractions we already have to offer. The Plan also highlights the need to work collectively to improve visitor experience and turn our location into a real strength.

“I particularly welcome the commitment to developing the use of digital technology to improve visitor experience and the strong focus being placed on investment in marketing the City and District and wider region. A key element of the Strategy is the focus on developing the rural offering and building on our existing tourism assets such as the Walled City,” he said.

Stephen Gillespie is the Director for Business and Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council. He explained that the three core supporting themes for successful delivery of the Strategy is around History and Heritage; Creativity and Culture and Activity and Adventure.

He commented: “We are very keen to use our historic and heritage assets to encourage tourists to explore our epic stories throughout the centuries. We are very keen to capitalise on our vibrant arts scene and build on our existing events calendar to develop our existing celebrations including Halloween and the Foyle Maritime Festival to establish the city and region as a cultural destination of choice on the island of Ireland. The Strategy also recognises the importance of developing our natural assets such as the Sperrins, to make them more accessible to visitors.

“At the heart of the strategy is the goal to create and support jobs which will be generated through increased visitor spend. The successful delivery of this strategy is dependent on strong leadership, collaborative working and supported by timely, accurate and insightful data that will assist us to steer the future of tourism over the next eight years.”

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Council, explained that a very important element of the Strategy is how it will be governed.

“A Tourism Delivery Partnership will be established with representation from key stakeholders and the private sector to oversee the delivery within the wider context of the Strategic Growth. The Partnership, in addition to overseeing the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan, will monitor and evaluate progress, evaluate changes and alterations needed to respond to market conditions, work with other groups and stakeholders involved in the delivery of the actions and be responsible for the commissioning of an independent mi-term evaluation.

“Key to the success of the Strategy is the collaborative working alongside our arts and cultural partners to deliver an outcome that will showcase how we are living in a cultural destination of choice that offers a world class visitor experience.”

Odhran Dunne from Visit Derry, said the Tourism Strategy is an important piece of work that will give a clear direction for how the tourism product and experience is developed over the next eight years.

“Visit Derry is delighted to be one of the stakeholders involved in the development of the Strategy. We had a very proactive role in presenting our current offering and looking at the trends of who is currently visiting our region, where they are travelling from and what they are coming here to see. We used this information to assist in identifying the key opportunities of how we can encourage more visitors to stay here by looking at our evening economy offering, our connectivity and transport links, our accommodation provision and the challenges of seasonality. We are looking forward to working with the Council and other partners to deliver the strategy and to work positively to develop and increase tourism potential for this fantastic city, district and wider region.”

Copies of the Tourism Strategy are available to download at www.derrystrabane.com/tourism