A major campaign to market the Newry, Mourne and Down region to the world as a premier tourist destination has been agreed by local councillors.
A new promotional video was shown at the council’s enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee to focus on what can be achieved.
A marketing plan – to highlight how the region can be developed and what can be achieved – won the backing of all parties.
And the video shown has been developed as part of a ‘Heaven in a Heartbeat’ campaign, which will focus on how people will feel when they visit this part of the world, with the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and Europe being specifically targeted for potential tourists.
SDLP councillor Pete Byrne – who also revealed extra funding has been agreed for some key calendar events and community festivals – says he is excited by the future potential for the area.
“The tourism strategy was developed in partnership with local tourism and hospitality businesses in order to give any visitor an authentic look at what our region has to offer,” he explained.
“The marketing campaign will highlight what is unique about our district, including our beautiful mountains and the stories we have to tell.
“The work by council over the last year in developing a strategy – combined with this campaign – shows that we are serious about realising our tourism potential.
“Our council has shown real leadership and forward planning in the development of this strategy, recognising that tourism can drive economic growth and job creation.
“Not only have we managed to support this ambitious campaign, we have also increased funding for events like Slieve Gullion’s Footsteps in the Forest and the Guardians of the Mournes Festival on last year’s budget allocation.
“This included doubling the funding pot available to community organised festivals.
“While our aim was to provide an equitable split of the tourism funding pot to ensure fairness, it does however provide an opportunity for community organisations to ‘grow’ their festivals and contribute in a positive way to our tourism product, creating a real sense of ownership in attracting visitors into our communities from across the world.”