‘Economic and employment potential must be realised’ – McKevitt

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Monday, November 12th, 2012
SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt has called for increased North South co-operation in order to enhance the development of the arts and to increase tourism potential. McKevitt was speaking during the SDLP conference in Armagh. She said: “In my part of South Down we have two significant natural resources – the mountains and the coast. There are no big employers providing thousands of jobs. We are going to have to rely on our own efforts and our natural advantages to provide jobs to keep our young people at home.” “We have a rich cultural history and artistic spirit that we need to capitalise on. In this part of the world we are uniquely good at telling stories, at singing and playing music and generally entertaining people. She continued, “The tourism bodies north and south regularly survey visitors on their way home to find out what brought them here – and the trends are very clear. The first is landscape – and the second is the broad category covering culture, heritage and lifestyle. “The SDLP has been delighted at the approval of a planning application for the Narrow Water Bridge which has major strategic significance for both sides of Carlingford Lough. This will strengthen North-South links and will make the area much more accessible to tourists. McKevitt added, “There is a fair bit of talk about North-South co-operation on tourism but there is not all that much substance. By jointly developing our artistic and cultural offering we could greatly enhance the tourist experience and provide added value to keep tourists here longer at very little extra cost. “It is time to make tourism development within Ireland an explicit area of North-South co-operation and to develop a strategy for cross-border development of the full tourism potential of our Island.”
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