HC Deb 26 November 1992 vol 214 cc979-81
7. Mr. Nigel Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures he is taking to promote tourism in Northern Ireland.

10. Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures he is taking to promote tourism in Londonderry.

Mr. Atkins

Following a review of tourism in 1989 and the introduction of new tourism legislation in April this year, the Northern Ireland tourist board has been reorganised and resourced to take forward the promotion, marketing and development of tourism throughout Northern Ireland. In addition, district councils are being encouraged to develop tourist amenities in their areas. My overall aim is to maximise the contribution that tourism makes to the Northern Ireland economy and this, of course, includes Londonderry.

Mr. Evans

I welcome my hon. Friend's response to that question about tourism and to earlier questions on the subject asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan). Does the Minister agree that if we are to encourage more tourists to the Province, we must give high-quality training to personnel concerned with tourism?

Mr. Atkins

My hon. Friend is right, because unless good-quality service is given to those who come to Northern Ireland, they will not come again. The crucial factor is that those who come to the Pronvince and see its beauties, however they perceive them, know that they must come again. The quality of service provided by properly trained staff at all levels is fundamental.

Mr. Fabricant

Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to people from all the communities in Londonderry for their hard work in regenerating the centre of that city and making it a tourist attraction? Will he also join me in paying tribute to the people of Helen's Bay, Portrush, Newcastle and all parts of Northern Ireland, and all the beautiful places that I know exist there, because I have visited them and hope to visit them again?

Mr. Atkins

I can say without equivocation that if my hon. Friend returns again with as many friends as he cares to bring, he will be extremely welcome. A special plaudit is due to the citizens of Derry for all that they have achieved in recent months and years in providing a tourism attraction. I think particularly of the Tower museum and the craft village that has been created, largely as a result of the work done by the council, by Paddy Doherty of the inner city trust and, above all, by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), who has done an enormous amount to help in that respect.

Mr. Hume

Does the Minister agree that good communications, particularly air travel, are essential? Will he ensure that airport facilities in the north-west are brought up to the standard that we in that area want, so helping tourism to increase?

Mr. Atkins

I am tempted to say watch this air space. I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. William Ross

Does the Minister agree that if we are to improve the standards of hotel and catering establishments, we should make available to the catering college at Portrush the maximum support it requires to produce the proper quality of staff? Does he further agree that among the glories of tourism in Northern Ireland are the wonderful beaches along the north coast? Will he ensure that the raw sewage that is at present pouring across some of them is properly dealt with before it goes into the sea?

Mr. Atkins

I recently visited the catering college in Portrush and was impressed with the quality of meal that I was given and the work that I saw being done. The attractions of Portrush, Portstewart and other places, not least the golf course and Bushmill's distillery, are all contributory factors to the attractions offered to tourists by that part of Northern Ireland. I shall do all I can to help in that respect. I shall investigate the point that the hon. Gentleman raised about sewage.