South Down needs sustainable tourism infrastructure - Hazzard

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Tuesday 7 December 2021 8:11

SINN Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has called on the Stormont Executive to “get serious” about the urgent need to invest in sustainable tourism infrastructure, as regions such as South Down continue to experience a significant growth in visitors.

The South Down MP, and his party colleague Cllr Cathy Mason, met this week with TourismNI Chief Executive John McGrillen in Downpatrick to talk about the challenges and opportunities that continued growth in the local tourism industry creates for South Down.

Mr Hazzard said:

“The impact of the Covid19 pandemic on our local tourism industry has been a huge shock to the system. Visitor numbers to parts of South Down have increased dramatically as people have sought refuge in our beautiful, natural surroundings.

“But this means we have to get serious about investing in sustainable tourism infrastructure so that we can cope with this unprecedented pressure whilst always meeting the needs of our local communities and our vulnerable local landscape.

“If we are to offer a world-class tourism experience for generations to come, particularly in our environmentally sensitive areas like the Mournes or Lecale; then fit for purpose infrastructure such as public transport connections, car parks, and modern facilities are a must.

"So too are sustainable management practices, especially designed to balance the needs of the visitor, the host community, and the natural environment. Without all three of these parts working in unison, there can be no longterm, sustainable future for the world-class tourism offering we want to provide locally.

Cllr Mason added:

“It is vital then that local and central government work together to maximise the tourist potential across South Down.

“Investment in modern infrastructure, and ongoing collaboration in developing management practises will be key to delivering upon the hugely exciting vision we all have for the future. I look forward to continuing to work with TourismNI, Stormont departments, and our local Council to ensure we can develop a sustainable tourism model for generations to come.”

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