By Catherine McCurry
LOCAL people have hit back at controversial research published by Tourism NI which found that Fermanagh’s biggest attractions aren’t pulling in the visitors.
The research found 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.
However, local people have hit out at the findings saying that Fermanagh has plenty to offer tourists while others have called for more investment to help improve current facilities.
It was revealed during a presentation to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council 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.
Enniskillen businessman Terry McCartney, who owns Belmore Court and Hotel and also sits on the board of Tourism NI, said that the “overall Fermanagh picture is good”.
He added: “Visitor feedback is generally positive and statistics show the area has attracted 365,000 overnight trips in 2013 with associated spend of £86m. This represents 9% of total overnight trips taken in NI in 2013 and 12% of NI spend.
“Fermanagh is blessed with enviable natural resources and has enough supporting tourism product to satisfy current demand. It is a key tourism area for Northern Ireland.
“The NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research) statistics and TNI visitor attitude survey statistics show this information. We need to have a balance of accommodation offers, events and attractions.”
Garrison man, Gerry McGrath, was one of many locals who took to social media to react to the research.
He said: “Fermanagh has natural unspoiled beauty that many places don’t have and people like that. They don’t come to our county to sit in hotel watching sky TV. Disgraceful comment to make.”
Christine McElroy, who is from Lisnaskea but now living in Gold Coast in Australia, said that more investment needs to go into family activities.
She added: “Skydiving, water sports, rock climbing, abseiling, day cruises, day fishing trips, diving, bungee jumping, fake ski-field, jet boating, kayaking, canoeing to name just a few. They need to be affordable for people and families also. Camping grounds with electric, showers and kitchens, barbecues. And before anyone says it’s too cold or wet, Queenstown in New Zealand is both cold and wet and is the best tourist spot I have ever been in.
“We need investment and more family and young activities. We have got the goods in Fermanagh but we need it to be affordable, fun for all ages, and then promote it. So basically lots and lots of investment. If I had the money I would buy one of the Fermanagh Islands and build a big adventure island. Fermanagh Disneyland. Tourism is just not affordable in Fermanagh most people do not have the money to spend.”
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