INCREASING tourism income to £600 million and direct tourism related employment to over 7,500 full time equivalent jobs are just some of the key targets for the new Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Area Plan 2012-2017.
Launched by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership and Tourism Minister Arlene Foster, the plan sets out the tourism ambitions for Causeway Coast and Glens for the next five years.
The plan incorporates an extensive range of actions across seven key themes including new technology, partnerships with the private sector, development of the landscape and building the image of the region.
The funding for the plan is under pinned by some £24 million of investment from local authorities supported by the private sector and a range of government agencies.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “The wonderful spectacle and tremendous success of the Irish Open in Portrush clearly demonstrates how tourism can contribute hugely both to the economy and the quality of life in Northern Ireland, and that it is why it is positioned at the very core of our Economic Strategy.
“Building on the overall vision for Northern Ireland tourism this Tourism Area Plan will build on the pulling power of new attractions like the Giants Causeway Visitors’ Centre by developing further visitor experiences and the tourism infrastructure along the length and breadth of the Causeway Coast and Glens area.
“A great deal of work has been carried out to involve local stakeholders and communities and this plan is the result of a sustained team effort across the industry and across local and central government.
“ If that partnership working continues throughout the delivery of the plan, I am confident that it will bring much benefit to the businesses and communities in the area and further reasons for more people to visit this very special part of the world.”
Causeway Coast and Glens Partnership Chairperson, Diane Poole OBE, said: “This represents the roadmap for Tourism in the region and clearly sets out our ambitions for the Causeway Coast and Glens tourism industry for the next five years. It provides a focus for the development of the region’s tourism potential through vibrant public / private sector partnerships.
“We want to build on our outstanding landscape and our facilities and activities to make Causeway Coast and Glens a ‘must visit’ destination. We must provide our visitors with the best possible experiences, encouraging them to stay longer, spend more and want to come back.
“The plan will also help us to tackle the problems of seasonality and spreading the benefits of tourism as widely as possible throughout the region.”
The plan builds upon the past 13 years of work undertaken by the Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership during which time staying visitors have risen to just over 1 million and the total economic impact of tourism in the region now exceeds £450 million.