Causeway Chamber met with MLA's
Causeway Chamber of Commerce met with MLA's to discuss issues with planning and the barriers to growth which our members and local businesses are facing. Next year we look forward to welcoming the British Open to Royal Portrush Golf Club. The 2019 Open was the catalyst for 3 new hotel projects on the North Coast with investment of circa £90m, unfortunately despite efforts by the developers and local representatives none will be ready in time for the event.
DUP MLA Maurice Bradley says he is deeply concerned by the rise in the number of challenges facing planning application within the Causeway Coast and Glens area. He said: “It is very clear by the most recent tourism statistics that there is a clear need for a better tourism offering in the Causeway Coast and Glens area. According to the most recent statistics, overnight trips are up almost a third, and expenditure is up by forty percent. For the first time ever there were over 1 million overnight trips recorded to the Causeway Coast and Glens area. These figures show the economic importance tourism has to our area.
“The need for additional hotels is very clear from these figures – these developments will not only benefit tourists, but this will have a knock-on effect on employment and be a welcome boost for our local suppliers.
“Developments like the Merrow Hotel, and other such projects, are vital to our local economy. I am of the opinion that Planners need to develop a ‘can do’ attitude, instead of the ‘can’t do’ attitude that seems to be in place currently.
“We are lucky enough to live in Northern Ireland’s premier tourist destination, we should be doing all that we can to sell our area and encourage people to visit us and invest in our area.
“Planners seem to be placing barriers in the way of any possible investment, it is time for them to let our economy grow and help us make our North Coast the jewel in the tourism crown.”
John Dallat MLA commented, “Our only growth industry is tourism and to take advantage of it we need new infrastructure including hotels because hotels create jobs and jobs create wealth for everyone.
Tourism is not just about golf although that is very important; its about creating a product that sustains our local economy for 12 months of the year and not just during one or two major events. Hotels which allows us to maximise the number of tourists seeking accommodation is key to success. Such hotels also need to be flexible enough to attract conferences and other major events. They need to be professionally marketed and here our council has a critical role to play in creating an image which is inviting and desirable for people with a whole variety of interests.
The design of such hotels cannot be a front for apartments and when it is demonstrated that they are the genuine thing approval should be of the essence.”
Caoimhe Archibald MLA said, "The north coast is blessed with fantastic natural heritage and over the past few years we have been successful in attracting a number of key events to the area including the Open 2019.
"Tourism is a key driver for our economy particularly in the north coast. Ensuing adequate infrastructure is in place to support tourism and the major events is key to building on this potential.
"Sinn Féin is committed to redressing decades of regional economic imbalance across the north and ensuring investment and development in the north and west."
Causeway Chamber supports the future growth plans of both new and established businesses within the region as it is vital to the economic future of the area. We are concerned by the rise in the number of challenges to planning applications in this area as they could become a barrier to much needed growth. We understand that schemes need to be sympathetic to the beautiful surroundings and will continue to work with all our local and national stakeholders to drive economic prosperity for all.