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T5. Mr McCausland asked the Minister for the Economy for his assessment of the significance of HMS Caroline, particularly in this year when we mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, given that it is a very important historic vessel that is docked in Belfast and has received five-star recognition as a tourist attraction. (AQT 410/16-21)
I had the privilege of attending the official opening of the new HMS Caroline attraction in June. There was a fantastic investment of around £10 million, which was supported by the Executive. I am really pleased that Tourism NI recently awarded it a five-star visitor attraction rating, which means that it is of an outstanding level. Anybody in the House or outside who has visited HMS Caroline will agree that it is an outstanding tourist attraction that will benefit the whole of Belfast, and particularly the maritime area in Titanic Quarter.
It is a great facility, but it is not in the best of locations at the moment. It needs to be kept in that area so there can be connectivity to Titanic Belfast and the Nomadic.
I recently agreed a process that will allow HMS Caroline to be moved from its current location. It is a little further out, beside the Pump-House, which is a much better and more accessible location for the vessel. It will also allow for an onshore visitor centre and for other parts of the attraction to be added to it, which will enhance it even further.