Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Enterprise Committee

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The UUP's Leslie Cree has asked whether targets to raise tourism targets by over half by 2020 are "foolishly aspirational", on 16 December 2010.

The head of tourism policy with the Department of Enterprise, Noel Cornick, referred to the draft strategy produced by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB). It hopes to raise the number of visitors each year from the current 2 million to 4 1/2 million and to increase tourism earnings by £1bn by 2020. He recognised the targets were challenging but said they gave substantial goals to aim for.

Mr Cornick told the enterprise committee that the department hopes to achieve this figure through first-class attractions and extra training for staff.

Lorraine Fleming from the department said the new Giant's Causeway visitor centre, Lyric Theatre, Titanic Quarter and Londonderry's City of Culture would hopefully project an attractive image of Northern Ireland.

William Irwin of the DUP said Northern Ireland still has a stigma surrounding it due to news pictures broadcast around the world. Mr Cornick agreed that there was evidence that safety and security are a still a consideration.

Independent Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Gerry McHugh said those working in front-line services such as hotels were not as welcoming as they could be.

The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell said he would like to see the Tourist Board embracing sports to encourage more visitors from across the border.

Enterprise committee membership

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