Agritourism

Agriculture and Rural Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 15th March 2011.

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Photo of Séan Neeson Séan Neeson Alliance 2:15 pm, 15th March 2011

10. asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to outline the action she is taking to develop agritourism.              (AQO 1291/11)

Photo of Michelle Gildernew Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin

Unfortunately, under axis 3 of the rural development programme, we cannot fund anything that is associated with agricultural production. However, under measure 3.1 of the rural development programme, farm diversification, farm families who wish to diversify into tourism can avail themselves of funding to develop non-production-related infrastructure such as, for example, self-catering units or activity-based tourism, and, in doing so, provide activities and accommodation that could complement a wider tourism project.

As I said previously in the House, the work that is ongoing through the rural development programme is delivering the tourism infrastructure that will help rural communities to provide a better tourism offering in the future. Agritourism and social farming are innovative ways of increasing the farm family income. My officials are examining whether those farming innovations could be supported by my Department and how it can do so.

Photo of Séan Neeson Séan Neeson Alliance

The Minister will be delighted to hear that I have just left my farewell lunch to be here to ask my question. [Laughter.] To what extent does her Department work with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to promote agritourism in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Michelle Gildernew Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin

We work with all agencies. I have attended a number of North/South Ministerial Council meetings at which Tourism Ireland has highlighted how rural agritourism and the better use of forests and our rural communities have the potential to attract visitors to this island. We will work with all and any organisations, not just the tourist bodies, but local government with private partners, to determine how we can better develop agritourism. I welcome the fact that the Member left his farewell lunch to be here. He can go back to it now. [Laughter.]

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

That concludes questions to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for the last time.