By Alan Healy
A group tasked with promoting Derry as an international tourist destination will receive a funding increase of almost £300, 000 after a review found that it was ‘under-resourced’.
The move comes following an independent review of the ‘efficiency and effectiveness’ of Visit Derry, which was carried out by a consultancy group working for Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Currently, Visit Derry have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the council through which it receives £410,000 annually to deliver two key roles.
These are marketing the city as a destination and servicing visitors to the city, a role which includes management of the city's Visitor Information Centre in Foyle Street.
However, the review found that at present, Visit Derry is ‘under-resourced’ and there is a need increase in investment in order to reach objectives set both by the Tourism Strategy and the Strategic Growth Plan recently launched by the council.
The review was presented to local councillors at a meeting of its Business and Culture Committee on Friday afternoon, where Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture at Derry City and Council, said that Visit Derry had been ‘successful in meeting or surpassing the majority of its performance targets within budget’ over the last number of years.
She added that in order for Visit Derry to become a ‘fully-fledged Destination Management Organisation (DMO)’, an ‘uplift in funding’ would be needed.
The meeting was also told in order for council to fulfil its ambition to grow investment in marketing to £2m by 2020, its annual contribution to Visit Derry should be increased from £410,000 to £693,175, an increase of £283, 175.
Commenting, Sinn Fein’s Mickey Cooper said that he would support the move, adding that Visit Derry was currently operating with ‘peanuts’ in terms of what was required to promote the region.
The DUP’s David Ramsey also backed the increase, adding that the city also needed the proper infrastructure top allow it to ‘cope with crowds’ as a result of an increase in visitors.
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