No stand-out reason to visit Fermanagh, says tourism boss

Lough Erne

Lough Erne

FERMANAGH’S big tourist attractions aren’t pulling in the tourists the way they ought to. And it seems that keen deals being offered by local hotels are the main reasons why visitors come to Fermanagh – not the landmark attractions like the lakes and the Marble Arch caves.

That’s according to research which has been just published by Tourism NI and was revealed during a presentation to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council last week by Laura McCorry, a director with Tourism NI and Martin Graham who has been appointed as the regional manager for the Omagh and Fermanagh areas.


Tourism NI surveys stated visitors are being attracted to Fermanagh by hotel deals and are not travelling specifically to avail of attractions.

The opposite exists in Omagh, where the main attraction that draws tourists is currently the Ulster American Folk Park. However, according to Tourism NI these ‘day-trippers’ are not being enticed to stay by the local accommodation offerings.

In the presentation the Tourism NI representatives told the council, that while finances were constrained for them to invest in the area, Tourism NI would offer assistance and advice how the council develop its tourism strategy.

Ms McCorry commented how they could work collectively to highlight the potential for the local area.

During the regeneration and community committee meeting in Omagh recently, some of the councillors present took exception to being told that tourism locally is predominantly “domestic driven” and there was “no stand out reason” to visit Fermanagh or sufficient reason to stay in Omagh.

Referring to Fermanagh, Ms McCorry added, “Fermanagh is blessed with enviable natural resources and has enough supporting tourism product to satisfy current demand. It is a key tourism area.

However, the Lakelands experience hasn’t been brought together holistically and the current tourism model is not sustainable. Fermanagh is good for a short break but there is no stand out reason in terms of visitor experience.


The reason for visiting Fermanagh is largely accommodation driven with couples looking at hotel deals more so than for example visiting the lakes.”

Ms McCorry suggested developing the experience in and around the lakes as a unique selling point to attract visitors because of the ‘Lakeland experience’.

She said this will result in the visitor experience being more consistent and visitor satisfaction will increase leading to word-of-mouth recommendations.”

Commenting about tourism in Omagh, Ms McCorry said, “Omagh is not functioning as a tourism destination in its own right. It is an area that is attraction-led with the Ulster American Folk Park as opposed to being area-led. There is increased potential if the Folk Park can be maximised as a hub for genealogy as there is strong market potential, particularly in north American markets.

“Tyrone and Sperrins is not recognised nor is it functioning as a tourism destination in the eyes of the visitor. There is an opportunity to extract outdoor experience and integrate it into a wider Northern Ireland proposition to drive growth in the area.”

The Tourism NI director concluded her presentation to council by stating Northern Ireland as a whole faces a massive challenge and there needs to be a collective approach to offer much more and stand out in a crowded landscape.

She did also say that as Fermanagh and Omagh vary so much they will have to be marketed and developed differently.

After much discussion among councillors following the presentation, it was passed that the council would take onboard the Tourism NI analysis when developing its tourism development plan.

Cllr Thomas O’Reilly commented that he was glad to see recognition from Tourism NI of the need to work in partnership with the council and that it was important to have them at the design stage of the tourism plan to have a greater understanding moving forward.

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