Hazzard welcomes Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia

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Monday, June 15th, 2015
Local MLA Chris Hazzard has welcomed the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia to South Down.
Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard

Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard

Speaking to Newry Times, he said, “Great credit is due to the event organisers and promoters for choosing our region. “The route through Rathfriland, Hilltown, Rostrevor, Castlewellan, Dromara, Ballynahinch and Saintfield, taking in our mountains, forests and drumlin countryside is something we all take pride in. “Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia is a brilliant opportunity to showcase the beauty of our landscape to a worldwide audience. The natural beauty of South Down is complimented by the hospitality which comes naturally to its people. “Disruption caused by road closures isn’t a cause for widespread complaint here. So it’s important that we pay tribute to the locals and the people who volunteer their services to make sure that participants are watered and fuelled along the route,” he insisted. “We’ve attracted Ireland’s leading mass participation cycling event for sound reasons. Recognition that South Down is an excellent tourist destination is clear, following the awarding of ‘The European Sport Tourism Event of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism at the Tourism NI Annual Awards.’ “Unfortunately too many visitors to South Down are forced to book accommodation elsewhere as the number of local beds falls well short of what is expected of a premier tourist destination. Hazzard added, “This is why I’ve been calling on Minister Jonathan Bell and InvestNI to pro-actively develop overnight accommodation in South Down. It’s fantastic that we are hosting premier events. Now it’s time to build on it, to ensure the economy of South Down benefits to the maximum.”
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