Chair East Londonderry Alliance Paddy McGowan has expressed concern at the lack of understanding and knee-jerk reactions on the issue of motorhomes parking in local towns and beauty spots. He hit out at Coleraine Councillors from other parties who do not recognise the economic potential of attracting motorhome tourists to the North Coast.
Paddy McGowan said: “These councillors seem to view motorhomes and their occupants as some type of blight that take up disproportionate parking space and at the same time contribute nothing to our economy. This is a negative and incorrect attitude to have. Northern Ireland should be doing it’s best to attract and welcome all tourists as they provide a significant boost for local businesses.
“The identified problems and their resolution are not in the hands of the motorhome owners, but the authorities and local Councillors who should be making provision for them in Northern Ireland.
“For some years now the popularity of the traditional caravan has been overtaken by motorhomes. This trend was obvious in continental Europe decades before appearing here. We should therefore look in that direction to learn how to manage them properly.
“In Europe, motorhomes are recognised as major players in the tourist industry. Yes, there are identified areas where motorhomes are not allowed to park, but equally there are always designated areas where they can. For example, the ‘Aire de Service’ are parking locations where visiting motorhomes can have access to the basic services they require such as electricity hook-ups, access to fresh water, and waste water and toilet disposal facilities. These facilities require no staffing and are provided at a nominal charge, payable into a slot that supplies them. These service points usually provide the opportunity for the motorhome to remain for a specified number of nights often without any additional charge. Our European neighbours have recognised that if managed properly motorhomes help boost the economy in these areas.
“There is now an increasing number of motorhomes from Europe arriving in Ireland, carrying with them the expectation of infrastructure similar to that which they enjoy to at home. They then find a lack of provision and the possibility of a negative reception. I hate to think what our much sought after European visitors will report back on their return home. Often it won’t be a message that’s likely to persuade others to visit here.
“The East Londonderry Alliance Association has discussed this issue on a number of occasions and we’re convinced that this is a significant growth area for the economy. Alliance Councillor Barney Fitzpatrick has already made representations to Coleraine Council Officers to address the issue. It’s up to local councillors, the Assembly and the Tourist Board to get to work and make the most of this tourism potential, before it is too late.”