Newry and Mourne’s tourism industry received a major shot in the arm this week as New York based ex-pats website irishcentral.com earmarked Carlingford Lough and south Armagh as two of Ireland’s ‘Top Ten unspoilt destinations. Indeed it was recently confirmed in the Assembly that tourism spend in Newry and Mourne lags significantly behind other Northern districts including Belfast, Derry, Down, Coleraine and Fermanagh. However the irishcentral believes the district deserves better and with 800,000 unique visitors a month and 60,000 e-newsletter subscribers, the appeal of the area will have been brought to a new market. In the illustrated feature the irishcentral said: “Carlingford Lough on the North/South border is often ignored because of its location especially so during The Troubles. This area is beautiful, scenic and totally unspoilt.” In relation to south Armagh the feature said: ” South Armagh was once known as bandit country, now an unspoilt beautiful area of towering mountains and picturesque villages.” It remains to be seen whether such praise will express itself in increased visitor numbers and spend but such exposure at no expense reinforces a viewpoint that the tourism potential of Newry and Mourne is not being fully realised. At the end of last year, following criticism of the way in which Newry and Mourne District Council failed to capitalise on the visit of 200 elite Irish rowers to Newry Canal, the local authority agreed too hold a one-item meeting on the issue of tourism failings in the district. In the build up too the Olympics, Rowing Ireland is scheduled to return to the canal on the weekend of February 11 and 12 – with the council’s special tourism meeting taking place on February 2.
11th January 2012