The peace process has transformed Northern Ireland. Economic progress is evident and political violence, although not extinct, has diminished substantially in terms of the number of deaths and injuries (Tonge, 2005). This is certainly good news for the tourism industry but although peace and economic stability are important prerequisites, they alone will not guarantee tourism growth in Northern Ireland. The key to success is product development and diversification, an area that has been largely neglected during the ‘troubles’. This chapter examines the opportunities for Northern Ireland in one of the world’s fastest growing niche markets - sports tourism. The first section provides a brief but important insight into the country’s political history and how it has affected local tourism and sport. The second section analyses the tourism potential of local sports now that Northern Ireland has entered a new era of peace. The remaining two sections deal specifically with Gaelic games and its controversial governing body - the Gaelic Athletic Association. It is argued that, despite its nationalist ethos, local tourism organisations should now work alongside the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to help develop Gaelic sports into a lucrative tourism product. To establish if there was a latent demand for Gaelic Games a sample of overseas visitors were surveyed and the results are discussed in section three. Given the positive response to the questionnaire the final section of this chapter focuses on how Northern Ireland could promote Gaelic games and recommends how they could be packaged for the sport tourism market.
|Title of host publication||Tourism and Politics – Global Frameworks and Local Realities|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Publication status||Published - 10 Sep 2007|
- Place Marketing
- Northern Ireland