The Mid and East Antrim area should be aiming to emulate the Causeway Coast’s earnings from tourism, according to a local Councillor.
TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston made the remarks at a recent meeting of the supercouncil’s planning committee in Carrickfergus Council chambers on February 10.
According to a DOE report, tourism contributes just over £40million to the economy of the MEA district, attracting 251,338 overnight visitors.
In contrast, the Causeway Coast and Glens area earns almost three times that figure, with an estimated visitor spend of £110 million.
The report’s planning policy statement says that its tourism-related aim is to: “Facilitate economic growth through tourism in ways which are sustainable and compatible with the environment.
“Planning has a role in protecting tourist assets and facilitating tourist development.”
DOE Principal Planner Michael Francey told the committee: “The Gobbins will be a very important tourism asset for MEA.
“It is important that planning identifies such sites and takes measures to safeguard them from anything that would undermine tourism.”
Cllr Gaston commented: “Derry and Strabane get around £48 million, what have they got that we haven’t?
“This is a big opportunity.
“The Causeway Coast does around £100 million and we have to go after that.”
Planning Committee Chair Gordon Lyons commented: “Tourism Ireland does not place enough emphasis on selling Northern Ireland to the rest of the world.
“We have a fantastic natural resource, an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
“Economic development is one of the top priorities and within that is tourism.”