Northern tourism being left behind

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A proprietor of an award winning Bed and Breakfast in Coleraine has expressed his disappointment that a Bord Failte tourism initiative is not being promoted in Northern Ireland.

Winston Wallace, who runs Breezemount House at Castlerock Road, learnt of “The Gathering” project while attending the annual general meeting of the B&B Ireland Ltd in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.

Mr Wallace said: “The general idea is that every individual, organisation, school, club of whatever hue, will communicate to friends, relations, acquaintances across the world, USA, Canada, Australia and encourage them to visit Ireland in 2013 and visit events, meet relatives, search ancestors and join ‘The Gatherings’ which are organised throughout the towns and villages.

“For example, a gathering of the clans, the O’Neills, McDonnels. The government has allocated 3m euros to fund local events for additional attractions .

“I was appalled that not one word of Northern Ireland was mentioned in this initiative and in particular that I was an Ulster Scot with ancestry going back to 1620 and had some 20 or so relations in Canada and the potential for making a drive for the hundreds of thousands of Ulster Scots fraternity to come and visit in 2013 was breathtaking.

“Further, no mention was been made of the prolific number of tourist attractions in the North and events planned for 2013.”

Mr Wallace expressed disappointment that as an accommodation provider he had no inkling of this initiative.

He added: “We need to be proactive to encourage as many visitors to these shores by whatever means possible and every idea and initiative must be acted upon with vigour. It concerns me that we may be too late to create the momentum necessary to launch 2013 in this regard.

“The South seems to be streets ahead with their promotion. Nevertheless whilst we may be slow getting off the starting blocks it is never to late if there is enthusiasm and determination.

“I urge those responsible for driving our tourist industry forward to move quickly to create the awareness through meetings and publicity in the North and work in tandem with those in the South.

“After all we are all in this together’ to make Ireland the number one tourist destination in the world.”

On a different note Mr Wallace said that while Breezemount House had completed an extensive makeover this summer the nearby Clothworkers Building at Waterside was “an eyesore”.

“Here is a building with excellent historical interest going to waste. Ideal to house Tourism Ireland, Causeway Coast and Glens and the Tourist information office all under the one roof not to mention a temporary museum if the market yard is slow coming forward.

“Something must be done with this property. We have visitors passing this eyesore walking into town and commenting from time to time about it.

“Waterside, with its riverside park and location is one of the most attractive parts of Coleraine and restoring this property would enhance the area enormously.”