Naomi Long MP said: “The Titanic brand is one of the most globally recognisable linked to Belfast. Cities with a much weaker connection to the story have been exploiting the tourist potential of that connection for years, whilst Belfast has been much more low key.
“The signature project is a very exciting initiative which has massive potential in relation to attracting significant tourist numbers and growing our economy. Belfast has already received positive reviews as a tourist destination in recent days; however, if we really believe in ourselves and are committed to growing this sector, we need to invest in developing the required infrastructure to keep people coming back.
“We are fast approaching the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic and this project is a key part of this centenary and the tourism potential must not be underestimated. It also sends out a very strong message out about Northern Ireland that we are delivering exciting and ambitious projects and will, I believe, help us market ourselves globally and attract not only tourists, but also investment and jobs here.
“Any project of this scale will inevitably carry with it some risk – the key is to ensure that it is managed well and positively promoted nationally and internationally. Over the next few years we have a number of significant opportunities to do that with the Centenary next year, the World Police and Fire Games and Derry-Londonderry City of Culture both in 2013, followed by a return of the Tall Ships thereafter. We need to focus on capturing that momentum for Northern Ireland and the positive potential of the project and do all we can to ensure it is a success.”