North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on the Tourist Board to ‘take seriously’ the development of Gaelic Games as a tourism product.
The sport enjoys widespread support throughout North Antrim and Mr McKay feels it is time that proper recognition in tourist terms was acknowledged.
His remarks followed an address to NITB officials whilst chairing the Assembly’s Enterprise Committee.
Officials agreed to include Gaelic Games in programmes for visiting travel media and travel writers.
Mr McKay said: “Research has already demonstrated that tourists coming to the north, including business tourists, would be interested in watching or taking part in Gaelic Games. It is of course an indigenous sport unique to this country and as such we should be maximising its potential to realise economic benefits.“I made it quite clear that the Tourist Board’s performance on this front has fallen far short and the issue has been ignored rather than explored in terms of possible benefits. In response to my criticisms officials have agreed to now make Gaelic Games a part of ‘fam trips’. These trips imvolve bringing in travel media and travel writers from around the world to write about here as a tourist destination.
“This still falls far short of the work I believe is required to develop this. However I will monitor how the board moves this forward and will continue to work to develop and promote this in the months ahead.
“If we have something which is unique to this country and which generates interest from tourists then it should of course be marketed abroad. NITB should reflect on the findings of the University of Ulster report into Gaelic Games tourism and act on it.”