International focus for Mid and East Antrim’s tourism strategy

The iconic tubular bridge at the Gobbins cliff path.  INLT 35-655-CON
The iconic tubular bridge at the Gobbins cliff path. INLT 35-655-CON

The council hopes its forthcoming tourism strategy will “support innovative tourism development and growth while enhancing the capacity for wealth and job creation”.

The local authority has recruited consultants BTS to develop a framework for tourism development until 2020. A report presented to the council’s Economic Growth and Development Committee on Monday stated that positioning the local area in international markets “will require a focus on what assets will provide standout and the strongest visibility.”

It identifies the Causeway Coastal Route as one such “international, iconic stand-out experience” and lists primary strengths along this route as the Gobbins, the Glens, and Carrickfergus Castle, It also identifies five strategic themes: The Causeway Coastal Route; Culture & Heritage; Events & Festivals; Destination Marketing and Destination Management.

A council worker told members: “The international visitor is key to growth of the tourism strategy, not simply relying on domestic visitors.”

Cllr Mark McKinty said the local area had “missed out” on Game of Thrones-related tourism.

“There are problems getting access to Magheramorne Quarry but we can work on that,” he stated.

“We need some sort of museum or attraction. We have more to offer than most but are getting less benefit.”

Council officer Ainsley McWilliams assured Cllr McKinty that Game of Thrones would feature in the tourism strategy. She said there would be a “very definite trend” in the strategy regarding what would attract international visitors as there was a “need to differentiate what will stand out in the international market place.”