Robin Swann MLA, has thrown down the political gauntlet to both the DUP Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment Arlene Foster and the DUP Minister for Finance and Personnel Sammy Wilson to respond to the comments made by their colleague the DUP MP for North Antrim Ian Paisley Jnr about the pricing policy of the National Trust at the Causeway Visitors’ Centre.
Assemblyman Swann, who is also North Antrim UUP Chairman and Party Chief Whip, said: “As stated on the Northern Ireland Tourist Board website, the overall cost of the new Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience was £18.5 million with a number of funders.
“These include: £9.25million through NITB, of which European Union Competitiveness is contributing £6.125million; £3million Heritage Lottery Fund; £6.25million National Trust, of which £2.25million is through fundraising activity.
“DUP Ministers Foster and Wilson would both have had to approve the business plan and economic appraisal for the Causeway Visitors Centre due to the amount of funding received from NITB and the EU.
“This raises a number of questions since those plans would have had to show income projections based on ticket prices and the expected number of tourists.
“Is the current pricing structure in line with the figures provided for the business plan, if not what has changed?
“What Government support is available if, due to adverse publicity, the numbers attending the site drop below a sustainable level?
“There is a responsibility on both Government Ministers to immediately intervene to promote tourism on the North Coast given the adverse publicity generated in the past few days,” said Assemblyman Swann.