Towards a tourism strategy

The Department for the Economy has released a research paper on the future of tourism in Northern Ireland, aiming to develop a tourism strategy which should take the region through to 2030.

The Research paper on the future of tourism in Northern Ireland has been commissioned to present the added value of tourism in the context of Northern Irelands’s economic vision, to key challenges by 2030 and identify international best practice that could inform government policy.

The report makes 12 recommendations, based on international comparisons, which it believes can help enhance the competitiveness of the local tourism sector.

To improve the environmental resilience of Northern Ireland as a tourism destination, the paper states that there is a need to define and measure value added in tourism. It further states that there must be a plan which accounts for rising carbon prices in airplane tickets and investment into public transport for use by tourists visiting Northern Ireland. Additionally, it suggests that tourism sector leaders must undertake studies to understand and adapt to the tangible consequences of climate change for hospitality and leisure businesses.

To maximise the economic impact of tourism in Northern Ireland, the report calls on leaders to continue measuring the economic impact of tourism in Northern Ireland. Complementary to this is putting digital and experiences at the core of its tourism offer to stay competitive at an international level. Furthermore, there is a need to leverage the power of business tourism and large-scale business events to position Northern Ireland as a world-class tech destination.

If the potential social impact of tourism in Northern Ireland is to be maximised, the report states a need to monitor the social impact of tourism on local populations on an ongoing basis, and to strengthen the attractiveness of tourism jobs and retain employees in the sector. To achieve this, there is a need to rethink training programmes to align them with the needs of companies and destinations.
In order to ensure that there is enough capacity for demand, the report emphasises the necessity to monitor and redirect tourism flows, monitor housing prices around tourism destinations, and to introduce pilot regulations for short-term rents and digital platforms in specific locations.

The research paper reaches a vital conclusion, which is that the development of the tourism sector is “aligned with the 10X vision” and has been “delivering tangible results for several years”.

The paper states that, moving forward, substantial measures could be taken to ensure the “sustainable development of this value-added sector”. It adds: “Investing in the tourism product is key to ensuring its long-term competitiveness. This could be done in accordance with co-constructed objectives and regularly monitored key performance indicators (KPIs) considering the economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism in Northern Ireland.”

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