THE regeneration of the East Strand in Portrush will help make the area a ‘must see’ destination, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has said.
The Minister was speaking in Portrush, where she officially opened the town’s East Strand Public Realm Improvement Works and Public Art Project along with Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.
Arlene Foster said: “The regeneration of the East Strand will help to attract more visitors to Portrush and the north coast, which is famous the world over for its breathtaking scenery.
“Making the most of the beautiful beaches by giving visitors and their families more to see and do while they are there will help make Portrush a ‘must see’ destination for domestic and international tourists.
“With the opening of the new Causeway Visitor Centre next year; plans gathering pace to mark the Titanic Centenary in Belfast; and the build up to the UK City of Culture title for Londonderry in 2013, we are now entering an unprecedented time of opportunity for the tourism industry here.”
Minister Nelson McCausland said: “This public realm scheme has transformed the area around the East Strand promenade and provides a very attractive setting for visitors from across the world to enjoy.
“The scheme also provides better connection to the town centre and along with the £2million scheme I announced for Station Square last month, provides a welcome boost to the town and creates opportunities for further private investment.” Arlene Foster added: “In these challenging economic times we look to tourism and the unique heritage and culture we have here to engage and entertain our visitors. We need to give people reasons to make Northern Ireland their destination of choice and persuade them to stay here longer.”
Mayor of Coleraine, Alderman Maurice Bradley said: “The first promenade was built in Portrush in the 1870s and the town has since developed into a major holiday destination and seaside resort.
“Tourism remains a significant income generator for the local economy and it is imperative that we continue to invest in our product, in order to be competitive in the international market place and capitalise on opportunities for growth.
“Coleraine Borough Council will continue to strive towards creating a better environment in Portrush through targeted regeneration efforts. The East Strand Refurbishment Works and Public Art project will help to provide Portrush with a competitive edge, allowing the resort to meet the high expectations of today’s visitors whilst also making it a better place to live and work for its residents.”
East Strand Environmental Scheme, which has cost £1.15m to develop, is one of the larger capital projects on the Causeway Coastal Route (CCR) which complements the implementation of the wider CCR interpretation and infrastructure programme, key elements of the Causeway Coast & Glens Signature Project.
This project involves the regeneration and physical improvement of two key sections of the East Strand Promenade, namely public realm from the Arcadia to the Watersports Centre and its environs and the section from the Watersports Centre along the front of the East Strand promenade car park.
This work involved repairing the crumbling promenade, re-alignment and creation of a high quality promenade and associated infrastructure. This includes lighting, street furniture, surfacing, new steps, railings and landscaping.
The scheme will provide a linkage to recent improvements in public infrastructure along the Eastern side of the peninsula in Portrush which includes Antrim Gardens, the Arcadia and the East Strand Watersports Centre. It is envisaged that the Scheme will also contribute to the regeneration of the town’s Western peninsula.
NITB has provided £450,000 towards this project with £430,000 and £270,000 from the Department for Social Development and Coleraine Borough Council, respectively.
NITB is also providing £49,000 towards an iconic piece of public art at East Strand, as part of the CCR interpretation programme. This piece of public art will complement the physical improvement scheme and create a focal point for visitors while interpreting the rich maritime history of the area.
Holger Lonze, from Cork, was the successful artist and was commissioned with the sculpture titled ‘To the People of the Sea’ representing Portrush’s rich maritime culture and the boat building history of the East Strand site. The Arts Council is contributing £50,000 with Coleraine Borough Council funding the remainder.