SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty has tabled a priority written question in the Assembly to the economy minister Gordon Lyons to ask the minister what his department is doing to help promote tourism throughout Nerwry, Mourne and Down.
Mr McNulty provided detail on the reason behind his tabling of the question, stating he believes that “Tourism in Armagh as well as Newry, Mourne and Down is undersold and undervalued.”
“I feel that the potential for tourism in Armagh as well in Newry, Mourne and Down is undersold and undervalued. Our region has many beautiful and stunning landscapes with mountains, lakes and rivers alongside a deep and layered physical, cultural and mythological heritage. However, tourism is definitely not promoted well enough in the area.
“Compare Armagh city to Kilkenny city which is promoted very successfully to visitors from across the globe by tourism Ireland. Armagh city has just as much to offer as Kilkenny but is it promoted to any way the same level of Kilkenny? What is N.I tourism doing to promote Armagh city as a tourism destination?
“Think of everything that Armagh city has to offer from a tourism standpoint. Armagh is a cultural centre. Think of the library, think of the Cathedral, think of both the Irish language and mythological heritage on offer, it is a tourism gem. Tourism N.I needs to step up.”
Mr McNulty also cites the fact that although he believes that “Newry also has a lot to offer in terms of tourism”as is “The Albert Basin park would play a great part in the attractiveness of Newry.”
“The Albert Basin park would play a great part in the attractiveness of Newry and we need to reopen the Newry Canal to create a new blue and green Arch way through our countryside.Slieve Gullion is doing incredibly well since the development of the Forest park and the courtyard and the coffee shop. All of this has led to 500,000 visitors a year which is extraordinary. There is a new glamping site near Mullgabawn and there is a new glamping site near Camlough Lake. There is so much potential for tourism in our area which is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
“Not only this but Newry and South Armagh also has extraordinary gifts to sell, in terms of our music, in terms of our dance, in terms of our dramatists. Our traditional music, our artists. There is something special around South Armagh which is undervalued and undersold.”
Mr McNulty speculated as to why he believes the potential for tourism in the Armagh and Newry, Mourne and Down areas has yet to be fully realised, citing the aftermath of the troubles as a reason as to why not as many people would consider the north of Ireland as a potential tourism destination.
“There has been a residue of the troubles that has prevented people from considering the north to be a destination for tourism, having said that people in the south are visiting the north much more now.
“Aside from this the potential for tourism in Armagh and Newry, Mourne and Down is undersold and undervalued and needs to be really pitched for the positive things that it has to have offer.
“The fort on the top of Sieve Gullion needs to be restored. Whenever it was excavated in the sixties the ceiling of the roof was broken through so it needs to be restored to what it once was previously. This will further enhance the attractiveness of Slieve Gullion as a tourist destination.”