A five year plan to develop the region’s tourism industry has been unveiled by Mid Ulster District Council with the aim of growing the economy by £50m by 2021.
The plan involves three key themes around which future growth to be structured; Seamus Heaney, archaeological sites, history and heritage and outdoor activities.
Together with a focus on building the region’s reputation for good food and events, each theme will play a central part in developing, growing and raising the profile of the area.
“In developmental terms, the opening of Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy is not only a focal point for celebrating the life and literature of the Nobel Laurate but also represents the beginning of a new era for literary tourism locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” said council chairman Trevor Wilson.
“In addition, the strategy focuses on the development of tourism linkages through the creation of a tourism development group of which local authority, operator representatives and key stakeholders are members. It is anticipated the group will comment and contribute on a range of areas including marketing development and delivery.
“This region’s rich heritage and history from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, pre Christian and early Christian periods through to the O’Neills, the Flight of the Earls and plantation times, gives Mid Ulster a unique advantage in offering visitors a wealth of opportunities to steep themselves in a history which spans not just centuries, but millennia.
“And, when underpinned by the natural heritage which we also have, Mid Ulster offers an incredibly strong appeal for visitors interested in enjoying the great outdoors, whether that’s gentle walking or cycling or adrenaline-pumping mountain biking or off-roading.”
John McGrillen, Tourism NI chief executive said: “Throughout the comprehensive five-year strategy launched this morning, Mid Ulster Council has shown commitment to the growth of the tourism industry in the area. Tourism NI recognise the potential that Mid Ulster has to deliver this growth through the strong literary tourism offer in the area as well as the significant history and heritage sites that visitors can enjoy.”