Call for coastal businesses to sign up to Rural Tourism Experiences Programme
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is calling for coastal businesses in Whitehead, Islandmagee, Glenarm and Carnlough to sign up to a scheme which will grow and boost local tourism.
Some of Mid and East Antrim’s hidden gems could become must see destinations for anyone exploring the globally renowned Causeway Coastal Route with funding from DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).
The Rural Tourism Collaborative Experiences Programme aims to help boost footfall to specific rural areas across the borough by encouraging businesses and skilled locals to work together to see where they can help grow and develop tourism experiences with stunning potential, supporting marketing and business development ideas.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said: “The programme is open to existing tourism and hospitality businesses, and local groups or individuals who have a particular skill or currently run local workshops or classes that could be of interest to a visitor.
“You may also have spotted a business opportunity that you have not yet explored but would like to take further. If you think you can contribute to the local visitor economy, then we want to hear from you. The programme will provide expert facilitation to develop your tourism experience, assess commercial viability and identify support to bring it to market.
“This collaborative working will create vital economic activity in rural areas. This is a key focus for council as we move into the economic recovery of our local tourism industry. Attracting domestic visitors into the borough by offering authentic experiences will enhance the tourism appeal of the region and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more. We are very proud to boast such stunning scenery and warm welcomes across our borough, so it’s great to have a chance to show off about these on a world stage as part of NI’s wider tourism campaign.”
The initial themes will explore the themes of culture and creativity, recognising the significant natural, cultural and industrial heritage of these areas and the people that live there.
Sharon Scott, from NI based tourism and regeneration consultancy, Place Solutions, has been appointed to roll out the programme and work with the businesses and the local community.
She said: “It’s hoped that showcasing a number of coastal activities and creative talents across the hospitality and arts sectors will bring domestic visitors in the shorter term and later, the return of our international visitors. Families, activity seekers and the culturally curious will all be catered for by boosting projects already in place and developing new experiences and activities.
“My role is to help these rural communities develop tourism in a way that is sustainable and benefits the local economy. The aim of this programme is to create two distinctive rural destination hubs and position them within the wider Mid and East Antrim, Causeway Coastal Route and Northern Ireland ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ tourism offer.”
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