‘We help our members grow through a variety of networking opportunities.’

Tourism forum to promote Mournes

A new body has been formed to give accommodation and activity providers in the southern Mournes a voice. The Mournes Coastal Tourism forum was set up following a recent tourism meeting in Warrenpoint town hall organised by south Down MLA Karen McKevitt. Chairperson Pamela Houston said the forum would not be a talking shop but would be active in promoting accessible tourism information that would promote the Mournes. “This is very much a self help body because if we want to develop the tourism business and create jobs we are going to have to rely first and foremost on our own efforts,” she said. “There are about nine million tourists coming to Ireland every year and this area is probably getting even one per cent of them.” The forum is initially focusing on the part of south Down within Newry and Mourne district but it intends to establish relations with all other bodies with roles in tourism promotion on a wider basis. She said: “We don’t need another talking shop so we will b e very much an action group. The first place we have to start is improving the quality of information on everything affecting what tourists can see and do and where they can stay. There id a lack of detailed accessible information in both electronic and print versions. If people are serious about wanting to create tourism jobs in this area they must realise that the jobs can only be created by our members and the people we represent. There are so many bodies and stakeholders involved in tourism that we have got to rely on our district council to help organise co-operation with all of them. So we will be seeking meetings with representatives and officials over the coming weeks.” Meanwhile south Down MP Margaret Ritchie has urged the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Northern Ireland Tourism Board that the Titanic attraction benefits the tourism economy in the Mournes. Last week Tourism Minister Arlene revealed the Titanic signature complex, has attracted over 200,000 visitors in its first two months. Mrs Ritchie said: “I want to ensure that the Mournes a signature project like the Titanic project receive equal promotion from central government. I will be seeking an increase in visitor information available at the Titanic Complex in relation to the great tourism experience that is on offer for visitors to the south Down area. In south Down we have a wealth of tourism assets from early Christian Heritage which is very popular with overseas visitors along with the majestic scenery of the Mournes which has a wide appeal to both leisure and activity tourists.

Newry Reporter
20th June 2012