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Tourism Strategy2017-2021January 2017

2Newry, Mourne and Down Tourism Strategy 2017-2021Proud of our past.Building our futuretogether.Newry, Mourne & Down District CouncilCorporate Plan 2015-19

www.newrymournedown.org3ForewordCllr Gillian FitzpatrickChairperson of Newry,Mourne and DownDistrict CouncilI am delighted to presentour Tourism Strategy for Newry,Mourne and Down, 2017 – 2021.Tourism has long been a partof the local industry and hassince been recognised as akey priority in our CorporatePlan and EconomicDevelopment Strategy.This Strategy aims to maximise tourismgrowth for the area by adopting a fresh approachfocused on recognising what makes Newry,Mourne and Down distinctive and set apart fromother destinations.You will see throughout the strategy reference to ourheadline ‘mountains, myths and maritime’. These havebeen identified as the three elements that will create astrong and distinctive image for our area.Our promise, ‘delivering epic moments’ is focusedon redefining our visitor destination experiencesassociated with the mountains and the coastline andthose stories unique to us. Ultimately repositioningNewry, Mourne and Down into one of the premier yearround destinations in Ireland.The Strategy emphasises that tourism is everyone’sbusiness and there is a need for collaboration for thelong term growth of the tourism economy.We invite you to work with us to build a unified andentrepreneurial industry that is customer focused andsucceeds in delivering destination experiences to theinternational marketplace

4Newry, Mourne and Down Tourism Strategy 2017-2021“ I have seen landscapes which,under a particular light, made mefeel that at any moment a giant mightraise his head over the next ridge.”C.S. Lewis (in reference to the Mourne Mountains – the ‘setting’ for his Narnia Tales)

www.newrymournedown.org5ContentsExecutive Summary:Strategy Framework066. Developing Gatewayand Hub Communities501. Introduction087. Critical Success Factors582. The Current Situation108. Summary Action Plan:Recommendations713. The Strategy Overview20Endnotes74Appendix754. A Focus on Destination Experiences:The Mournes & Ring of Gullion285. A Focus of Destination Experiences:The Mourne Coast40This document has used images from the following sources: Tourism NI (Inside front cover image - Tourism NI) NMDDC TEAM-Tourism Google – only images that are designated free to use commercially

6Newry, Mourne and Down Tourism Strategy 2017-2021Executive Summary: Strategy FrameworkThis five-year Strategy sets out the strategic directionfor the tourism industry within the District of Newry,Mourne and Down. The document outlines the currentsituation, the strategy framework, and a series ofrecommendations that are designed to achieve thevision and goals, and to ensure that industry is in thebusiness of delivering EPIC moments.Our PromiseOur HeadlineDelivering‘EPIC’ momentsMountains, Mythsand MaritimeOur GoalsVision 2021Newry, Mourne &Down is a premier,year-round mountain andmaritime destination inIreland recognised forits EPIC experiences inoutdoor adventure, itsrich tapestry of culturalheritage, myths andunique stories, and itsauthentic local life.To work collaboratively toward assisting NorthernIreland achieve its targeted growth rate of 6% perannum in overnight expenditure by: Focusing on developing visitor destinationexperiences that will deliver ‘EPIC moments’. Building a unified and entrepreneurialindustry that is customer-focused. Ensuring that the development of tourismis undertaken sustainably and contributesto the enhancement of social, cultural andenvironmental values.Newry, Mourne and Down has long beenrecognised for its spectacular scenery; the dramaticrelationship between the mountains and the sea;the myths and stories that highlight the rich culturalheritage of the region; and the unique opportunitiesto experience the outdoors against this compositebackdrop of landscape and culture.Our headline, mountains, myths and maritime,helps to develop a shared story that will begin tocreate a stronger image of what makes NMDdistinctive - both in the minds of industry andultimately within the marketplace.It sets the stage for the Strategy’s focus on creatingdestination experiences that are associated withthe mountains and the coastline, and for its emphasison the stories that give the destination experiencesa unique quality.

www.newrymournedown.org7A focus on ‘EPIC’ – The underlying approachThe Strategic FrameworkThe concept of “EPIC” underlies the Strategyframework. It relates to a new approach todeveloping experiences and working together.Our PromiseDeliveringPremier,year-rounddestinationIt has been used as both a concept and an acronym,and is designed to act as a ‘cue’ to inspire new thinking.MomentsMountainsand maritimeOur Destination ExperiencesDelivering EPIC moments means deliveringimpressively great experiences. It means working inpartnership to ‘join up’ existing disparate products tocreate experiences that are EPIC. Taken as an acronym,it challenges industry to think in terms of deliveringtourism products that are:EPICexperiencesin outdooradventureMountains Myths MaritimeMourne-GullionExperienceHeadlineand ThemesMourne CoastalExperienceEntrpreneurialGateway and hub communitiesMyths andunique storiesCritical Success FactorsA focus on destination experiences and tellingthe story with a commitment to game-changingprojects and critical infrastructureRichtapestryof culturalheritageA joined up approach –leadership and productCollaborativeA compelling marketpresence and positionSustainablegrowthOur Target MarketsCreativeIconic &immersivePersonalisedExperientialCulturally CuriousGreat EscapersSocial Energisers(Domestic / RoI: Time Together; Mature Cosmopolitans; Family Fun; and, Young and Lively)CustomerfocusedOur Challenge and Commitment –A stretch target for experiences A stretch target for industryAuthenticlocal life

8Newry, Mourne and Down Tourism Strategy 2017-20211. IntroductionThis five-year Strategy sets outthe strategic direction for thetourism industry within theDistrict of Newry, Mourne andDown. It has been developedto support the Newry, Mourneand Down Corporate Plan 20152019 and the Newry, Mourne andDown Economic Regeneration &Investment Strategy 2015-2020,and is in alignment with keynational tourism and economicdevelopment policies.The significance of tourismNewry, Mourne and Down DistrictTourism is a key economic driver within the Districtand was worth 47.7 million to the local economy in2015. The sector supports almost 5,000 jobs, many ofwhich are within small and medium sized industriesdistributed throughout the entire District.The Review of Public Administration in 2015 resultedin the redrawing of local government boundaries andthe establishment of the Newry, Mourne and DownDistrict. It is located in the south-east of the countryand is the gateway from Dublin into the North. Thenew jurisdiction is an area rich with tourism assetsand natural beauty, and is characterised by the uniquejuxtaposition of mountains and sea. The area’snatural beauty is well recognised in its three Areas ofOutstanding Natural Beauty – the Mourne Mountains,the Ring of Gullion, and Strangford and Lecale.Globally tourism has become a critical force forprosperity, well-being and overall development. Itcontinues to grow despite occasional ‘shocks’, with2015 representing the sixth consecutive year ofabove-average growth in international travel.Within Northern Ireland, there is a strong commitmentto leverage these global trends. The sector is currentlyworth 5.2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP), and generates revenue of 723 million whilesustaining 43,000 jobs1. In 2015 visitors arriving fromoutside of N.I. rose by 5%, and hotels were continuing toreport growth in the first half of 20162. Maintaining thisgrowth trajectory has become a central focus of the N.I.Assembly and the forthcoming N.I. Tourism Strategy.The development of the NMD Tourism Strategy hasbeen undertaken with the intent of building on thismomentum, and identifying new opportunitiesto strengthen the District’s tourism industry, thecompetitiveness of its core destination experiences,and its international appeal.The coastal experiences, the market towns and fishingvillages, the world famous golfing and the array ofoutdoor adventure opportunities are layered upon anincredibly rich cultural heritage, including the life storyof St. Patrick and the early days of Christianity in Ireland.Visitor gateways and hubs are associated withDownpatrick, Newcastle, Newry, Warrenpoint/ Rostrevor,and the Crossmaglen area. The District lies in closeproximity to the island of Ireland’s two major urbancentres – Belfast and Dublin – and is well served by thearterial A1/M1 corridor. The area is highly attractive tothe domestic market and is one of the country’s topholiday destinations for N.I. residents.

www.newrymournedown.org9The planning process involved:Strategy development processThe process was initiated by the Newry, Mourneand Down District Council (NMDDC) and facilitatedby TEAM-Tourism Consulting. Strengthening tourismis a high priority for the Council, and it has set thegoal of the District becoming one of the premiertourism destinations on the island of Ireland.This Strategy is designed to be the road-mapto achieve this goal. It provides direction for thedevelopment of tourism within the District of Newry,Mourne and Down, and a framework for the Councilto work in partnership with a range of stakeholderstoward realising a shared vision and pursuingconsensus-based strategic priorities.Extensive desk research on national,regional and local policies, strategies, and plansrelating to tourism, economic development,infrastructure, land-use planning, and additionalareas such as heritage and culture; and, thepreparation of a Background Report.Site visits to towns, villages, and attractions.The development of a StrategyFramework discussion paper.Participation in the Department for theEconomy/ Tourism N.I. planning process forthe forthcoming N.I. Tourism Strategy.Six action planning workshops and fivedrop-in sessions in Downpatrick, Mullaghbane,Newcastle, Newry, Strangford and Warrenpointinvolving 140 participants.A regional industry forum attended by 36participants, and discussion-presentations withkey national and District stakeholders, and withthe NMD Tourism Task and Finish Group.Extensive one-on-one consultation with nationalgovernmental organisations and agencies, and keyplayers within the District; and, a stakeholderelectronic survey with 86 respondents.The presentation of the draft TourismStrategy to the NMD Tourism Task and FinishGroup, and the circulation of the draft documentto national and regional key agencies andstakeholders for feedback.A review process involving national agencies,NMDDC tourism partners, the NMD TourismTask and Finish Group, and all of Council.

10Newry, Mourne and Down Tourism Strategy 2017-20212. The Current SituationAn assessment of the currentsituation provides the contextfor the Tourism Strategy and therationale for its implementation.This assessment is based onanswering the overarchingquestion: “Where are we now?”The background research and the stakeholderconsultation focused on identifying the following: Market and industry trends and factors that areinfluencing tourism today in 2016 and need to betaken into consideration in developing strategicpriorities for the coming five years; The relevant national and regional planning policiesand their implications for tourism within the District; The current visitor markets andindustry performance; and, The strengths and the key issues facing thetourism industry that need to be maximisedor addressed moving forward.Market and industry trendsThere are a range of factors and trends that areimpacting tourism within the destination. Manyare global in nature and not unique to NMD.Nevertheless, they need to be understood andtaken into account in developing a strategy. Increase in demand for experiences. Visitors today areseeking deeper, authentic and memorable experiencesthat allow them to connect emotionally with the localdestination and community culture. Growth in themed tourism. Themes can differentiatea destination, highlight its unique selling propositions,provide a framework for experience development,clustering, packaging and marketing, and have becomeincreasingly important in positioning and branding adestination. Changing demographics and generational trends. Thereare certain demographic characteristics associated withkey cohorts – particularly the Baby-Boom Generationand the Millennials that influence preferences and tripplanning behaviour. Customer segmentation research has provided greaterunderstanding of travel values and preferences, and hasassisted in identifying niche segments that are likely tohave an interest in visiting NMD. Technology and technological innovation continues tohave an impact on the creation of compelling experiences,and how visitors participate in these experiences or selecttourism products. Volatility of global affairs, such as fluctuations in currencyexchange, and issues impacting traveller security andwell-being are all factors that can cause unexpectedchanges in market trends, and need to be fullyunderstood. Brexit is a prime example of events that canhave an immediate effect on visitation trends.

www.newrymournedown.orgThe nationalstrategic context –Tourism in N. Ireland2015 Performance4.5m trips11Visitor geographic markets–Place of origin 2015The strategic emphasisGOAL: Grow tourism to a 1 billionexport industry by 202515%Outside UK & IrelandTourism N.I. and the Department for the Economy arecurrently in the process of developing a NEW ten-yeartourism strategy for N.I. The vision for the country isthat it will become an internationally competitive andinspiring destination.No change on 2014 ontotal overnight trips in N.I.Domestic visitors fell by 4% andexternal visitors rose by 5%.Anticipated areas of strategic emphasis include:15.4m nightsTotal overnight tripsin N.I. rose by 2%.Domestic overall nights fell by 5%,while external visitors rose by 6%.7%49%RoINI –Domestic 760m spendAn increase of 1% on 2015.The domestic market fell by 8%in its value, while external visitors’expenditure rose by 5%. The need for a major proposition that will have highinternational appeal and can readily complement thethree key propositions in the Republic of Ireland – TheWild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, and Dublin. The importance of developing unique andcompelling experiences that will align with the majorproposition and are rooted in a ‘sense of place’. A visitor-centric approach that is based on a strongunderstanding of visitor expectations and motivations.29%Great Britain A partnership-based model for the delivery of tourismthat creates a high level of synergy through the effectivecollaboration of the public and private sect

headline ‘mountains, myths and maritime’. These have ... Tourism is a key economic driver within the District and was worth £47.7 million to the local economy in ... clustering, packaging and marketing, and have become increasingly important in positioning and branding a