Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA has announced that work will recommence to develop a strategy that will lead the tourism industry through the next decade, ensuring the Northern Ireland brand stands out in local markets.
In 2019 the Pound 1billion tourism industry employed approximately 71,000 people throughout Northern Ireland. The development of a tourism strategy, which had been paused as a result of the pandemic, will ensure a return to pre-pandemic heights and also ensure the local tourism industry can meet the challenges of being more sustainable, inclusive and innovative.
Minister Lyons said: "Tourism is a key element of our desire to develop Northern Ireland as one of the small elite economies of the world, the creation of a specific and unique tourism environment will be central to promoting Northern Ireland's reputation and attractiveness globally. The Strategy is important to the 10X Economic Vision, enabling tourism to fulfil its important role in the innovation and transformation agenda for our local economy.
"Over the past decade, substantial investment in authentic visitor experiences, and world-class attractions and events, has enabled Northern Ireland to present itself to global audiences as a stunning destination, with a unique landscape and a uniquely warm welcome for both its business and leisure visitors.
"My officials, working closely with Tourism NI, will be engaging over the coming months with key stakeholders on developing a regenerative Northern Ireland Tourism Strategy to promote and develop tourism after what has been, and continues to be, a challenging time for the sector. The new Strategy will have a global focus and cover the period up to 2030, setting out the principles, vision and key aims necessary to drive growth in this important sector."
Welcoming Minister Lyons' statement, Chair of Tourism NI, Ellvena Graham said: "I very much welcome this announcement by Minister Lyons. The tourism industry has come through a very difficult period as a result of the pandemic and although we currently face a very different set of challenges I remain confident that we can return to the growth we experienced over the past decade.
"This announcement paves the way for a new regenerative strategy that will set out a clear pathway for sustainable growth until 2030 for all of us involved in the tourism industry. Tourism NI is looking forward to working with our colleagues in DfE in the development and delivery of this new strategy."