Lagan Valley Constituency: Tourist Board Support

Enterprise, Trade and Investment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 13th November 2000.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 2:45 pm, 13th November 2000

5. asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment if he will outline his plans to address the shortfall in financial support from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board for the Lagan Valley constituency.

AQO 289/00

Photo of Reg Empey Reg Empey UUP

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) administers a number of grant schemes, which are open to applications from across Northern Ireland. The Tourist Board therefore encourages applications from the Lagan Valley area. Provided an application meets the published scheme criteria, the NITB will consider it on its merits.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the Minister for his response. I know that Lisburn Borough Council has been active in tourism and spends something like £0·75 million per year of its budget on it. Therefore it is somewhat depressing when Lagan Valley is awarded £121,000 while other inland councils such as West Tyrone are offered £1·5 million. That is how it goes in the marketing end. We would like to see more hotels in the Lisburn and Lagan Valley area.

Photo of Ms Jane Morrice Ms Jane Morrice NIWC

Will the Member ask a question please?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Is the Minister prepared to lift the moratorium on grant aid for hotels outside the 10-mile radius of Belfast?

Photo of Reg Empey Reg Empey UUP

The reason the moratorium was imposed in the first place was that there were enough people prepared to build and establish hotels with their own money, without recourse to public resources. If any arbitrary limit is imposed, such as nine, 10 or 11 miles, there is always a difficulty because people get on the wrong side of the limit.

The Member will be aware that there has been a difficulty with hotels in the Lisburn area for a number of years. Hotels closed down at Hilden and elsewhere. It has been difficult for hotels to establish themselves in this area. Part of the reason for that is their proximity to Belfast and, of course, the Forte hotel has now moved to Belfast. I do not have plans to remove the moratorium at the moment, but if I were convinced that there was a need or that it would make a difference, I would reconsider my position. With regard to the wider question —

Photo of Reg Empey Reg Empey UUP

I am trying to answer the question, Madam Deputy Speaker.