Tourism Ireland CEO Denies The Organisation Prioritises The Republic Over NI
A Claim by the DUP's Ian Paisley that "there is a view" that Tourism Ireland "really first and foremost has to promote the Republic of Ireland, and that Northern Ireland gets second place in that" has been rejected by the tourism marketing body.
Speaking before the Northern Ireland affairs committee at Westminster on Wednesday June 19, Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said that the marketing body "makes sure that [it] give a lot of prominence to Northern Ireland", as reported by The Irish Times.
Gibbons informed the committee that in the 17 years since Tourism Ireland was set up under the framework of the Belfast Agreement, close to 30 million people have visited Northern Ireland from overseas, generating £6.6 billion for the Northern Irish economy.
Belfast Airport Argument
When asked by Paisley if he considered claims by Belfast International Airport business development director Uel Hoey that the airport is not supported by Tourism Ireland to be "fair criticism", Gibbons stated that the marketing body does not support any specific airport on the island of Ireland, it instead supports airlines "to promote the inbound leg of the route".
The Irish Times quotes Gibbons as saying, "In relation to Belfast International [Airport], their chief executive is on our board. We do interact with them, and if there are any issues that they have, they know exactly where I am and they can pick up a phone."
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