New Tourism Partnership Brings Promising Future

23rd March 2023

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Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has established a new tourism partnership which will work to enhance and strengthen local tourism through the delivery of the Visitor Experience Development Plan (VEDP) for Fermanagh Lakelands & Omagh and The Sperrins.

The Partnership met in Enniskillen for the first time on Tuesday 21 March to commit to realising the ambition set out within the VEDP for a regenerative, year-round tourism destination.

The Partnership includes members from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Tourism NI, Waterways Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, DAERA, Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark, Department for Communities, Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism, Loughs Agency, National Trust, South West College, Sperrins Partnership Project, National Museums NI and Invest NI. The inaugural meeting of the VEDP Delivery Partnership is a key milestone in the delivery of the Visitor Experience Development Plan and, alongside the core membership, the Partnership is working on plans to establish inclusive industry and community engagement models.

The VEDP is a 10-year destination roadmap that will focus on regenerative tourism, delivering authentic visitor experiences, while benefitting local communities, businesses, and the environment.

Funded and developed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Tourism NI and Waterways Ireland, the VEDP will create greater alignment locally across the tourism sector through stronger collaboration from key delivery organisations and a more joined-up approach to tourism development.

Councillor Barry McElduff, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council commented: “The Fermanagh Lakelands & Omagh and The Sperrins is a truly beautiful part of the world in which to live, work and visit. We are keen to share this with visitors locally, nationally, and internationally.

A key part of the vision set out in the VEDP is that our visitors become temporary locals when they are here.  Through delivery of memorable moments, we will inspire our visitors to share their experience and encourage them to return.”

Garret McGrath, Regional Manager, Waterways Ireland explained: “Waterways Ireland and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have worked in partnership for many years to the benefit of residents and visitors to the Lakelands.

This successful relationship with the Council and with Tourism NI has enabled the VEDP, a roadmap for future development with the goal of delivering sustainable tourism growth and social and economic benefits.

Moving into the delivery phase of the VEDP we look forward to working with our partners and industry to implement the plan fully across Lough Erne over the next 10years and securing its reputation as a world class destination.”

Martin Graham, Regional Manager with Tourism NI added: “We are delighted to collaborate with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Waterways Ireland to provide funding, support, and advice to this new VEDP for Fermanagh Lakelands & Omagh and The Sperrins.

Like the VEDP, regenerative tourism will be a golden thread that will run through the new Northern Ireland tourism strategy and that too will be achieved through partnership working and collaboration”.

Chair of the VEDP Delivery Partnership, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly commented: “I have been an advocate for tourism in the district for many years and I am delighted to see that the first steps in achieving our ten-year plan have been taken in Enniskillen at our inaugural steering group meeting. Whilst there are many challenges ahead; having commitment to its implementation will bring huge opportunities to our district as a growth area for tourism.”