SOUTH Down Sinn Féin Assembly candidate Naomi Bailie believes Gaelic Games and Irish culture in the north are not being appropriately marketed to tourists and has called on government departments to ensure they are included in future tourism strategies.
Ms Bailie said, “Both Gaelic Games and Irish musical and cultural events should be a key strand of our tourism product but to date the NI Tourism and government departments have failed to grasp this opportunity.
“There is already an evidential base to this argument which we are putting forward. A recent survey of tourists the North found only 12.3% were familiar with the GAA but more than 68% would be interested in either playing or watching a sport which is unique and indigenous to Ireland. 100% of business tourists surveyed were interested in seeing Gaelic Games during their stay. CCE has already demonstrated that it has international appeal by sending groups to Cuba and the Expo in China.
“Key to promoting these sectors is signposting. The NITB’s ‘Discover’ website is deficient of information relating to GAA and CCE events and they need to look at this issue. Pioneering proposals and examples of how Gaelic Games can create jobs, attract tourists and act as an economic driver must also be part of their agenda and built upon. There is no reason why attending A Down Senior Championship match should not be as normal a decision for tourists as visiting a museum or beauty spot,” she added.