MSP heads Irish tourism delegation

Local MSP Finlay Carson with the delegation
Local MSP Finlay Carson with the delegation

Local MSP Finlay Carson led a delegation to Belfast last week to explore ways of improving the visitor experience from Northern Ireland.

The delegation included representatives from the Stranraer Development Trust, Visit Scotland and Stena Line. It was organised after a meeting in Stranraer, which considered a number of short term initiatives to improve the East Pier while the regeneration works were ongoing.

According to Visit Scotland, 268,000 Northern Irelands residents took overnight tourism trips in Scotland in 2015, spending £97 million.

A large number of these people would travel by ferry, making their first port of call Cairnryan.

Speaking after the visit, Mr Carson said: “I was pleased to see first-hand the welcome that visitors from Northern Ireland get when they arrive in Cairnryan.

“When Stena Line moved their Ferry Terminal and Port from Stranraer in 2011, many people were deeply concerned about the impact it would have on the town’s economy.

“Those concerns are as significant today as they were in 2011 and I welcome Stena Line’s continued commitment to do whatever they can to assist the regeneration.

“Just as we need visitors to turn left at Gretna and visit Dumfries and Galloway, I want to see more people get off the boat at Cairnryan and spend more time in Wigtownshire.

“At the moment, if people want to visit the Central Belt they are able to get on a bus that goes up the coast route to Ayr and on up – completely bypassing Stranraer and the rest of the area.

“I hope that by working together with Stena Line, Visit Scotland and the Stranraer Development Trust, work can be done to encourage more people to spend time in Stranraer and see what the town has to offer.

“As I have said before, we must ensure that Wigtownshire does not become the forgotten gateway to Scotland”.