Events tourism must be supported

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The Coleraine area’s ability to present tourist-related events must be encouraged fully and protected by the Assembly, DUP Alderman James McClure has said.

While urging organisers of the Northern Ireland Milk Cup international youth football tournament to begin talks with Government over future funding, he has revealed his belief that a local forum for organisers of major events could prove mutually beneficial.

Alderman McClure said: “As the Milk Cup reviews another successful event and looks towards celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012, it is imperative that the problems it ran into over its initial funding application for this year’s event are not replicated.

“Talks with the relevant Department must be opened quickly in order to ensure there is no delay.

“All our major North Coast events such as the Milk Cup, North West 200 and Northern Ireland Airshow are recognised for their quality and professionalism.

“We are all proud of them and I believe that we must safeguard their future by bringing organisers together, perhaps even under the umbrella of the Council, to explore ways of co-operation when it comes to organisation and funding.”

Alderman McClure said he knew all these events were feeling the pinch in terms of sponsorship and funding: “If we do not act now to ensure everything that can be done is done, then we run the risk of not fully maximising the avenues open to them to access help.

“I believe we are at the forefront in providing world class events that attract tourists from all corners of the globe.

“We have also golf events and band competitions which bring visitors from across the country and beyond.

“I believe it makes sense to have representatives from each one represented at a conference where they could share ideas and perhaps problem solve issues to their mutual benefit.”

Alderman McClure added: “I congratulate the Milk Cup committee on another great competition. I have to say that I believe the finals of their tournament should be staged in Coleraine and I hope that moves to secure a new purpose-built sports stadium at Rugby Avenue can be pushed forward to ensure we have the type of facilities to host them and other sporting activities.”