Letters to the Editor, ‘Tourism – a call to action’
Tourism could be the economic saviour of this part of Ireland, but only if it is developed and promoted effectively and holistically. I have been passionate about promoting tourism in this area since my term as an MLA between 1998 and 2003 and throughout my time as a Sinn Fein councillor on Newry and Mourne Council.
We have a unique natural resource here to offer visitors, including Carlingford Lough, Kilbroney Park, the Ring of Gullion, the Mournes and the Cooley Peninsula. We have so many new opportunities to exploit it too. The new mountain bike trail and proposed Narnian trail in Kilbroney Park will attract many thousands each year.
The Carlingford Coastal Path Enhancement will add to Carlingford’s development as one of the most popular tourism destinations in Ireland. We need to get behind projects like the proposal for the bridge at Narrow Water, the Warrenpoint Marina and the Geopark, which would see the development of sustainable tourism throughout the area.
In 2014 Rostrevor could be the focus of a festival to celebrate the bi-centenary of General Ross burning down the White House in Washington and inspiring the writing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. Our first priority must be to build up our infrastructure. It is essential that the Assembly and NITB, along with Newry and Mourne Council, encourages, supports and facilitates the development of accommodation locally, including B&B’s, hostels and hotels.
I am delighted that land permission has been granted for a hotel in Greenpark Road Rostrevor and that work has begun on its construction. But this will be the only hotel in Rostrevor, which a century ago was one of Ireland’s most popular tourism destinations and should be again.
We must also develop and promote our tourism offering collectively. I was disappointed to see a recent promotion for Newry and Mourne in the Irish News in which the tourism map of the area left County Louth blank. Working together we can develop a tourism product that can match any in Ireland, promoting a cultural heritage that shares some of Ireland’s most famous myths as well as a compelling history and many attractions.
With careful planning, joined up thinking and a collective will – from the Dáil, the Assembly, Failte, NITB, Louth and Newry and Mourne Councils – we can transform the tourism offering of this area and bring much needed jobs and growth. We have a great opportunity, lets develop it together!
Crotlieve Sinn Féin councillor for Newry and Mourne.
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