SDLP Economy spokesperson Sinead McLaughlin has welcomed the fresh approach taken by new economy minister Gordon Lyons, supporting the linkage of the Wild Atlantic Way with the Causeway Coast.
The linkage of the two routes could significantly increase tourism income for Derry and the region.
Previous Economy Minister Diane Dodds had stated that the two routes were in competition and responded negatively to the call from McLaughlin to work together with the Irish government to jointly promote a connected route.
Both ministers were answering written Assembly questions lodged by McLaughlin, who has lobbied heavily for the linkage to boost the tourism sector in Derry.
Said the Foyle MLA: “I very much welcome the positive words from incoming economy minister Gordon Lyons, indicating his support for the promotion of Derry, under the slogan ‘The Walled City – Where the Wild Atlantic Way Meets the Causeway Coastal Route’.
“This promotional exercise can generate real benefits for Derry and the wider North West, on both sides of the border.
“Cross-border co-operation makes sense and can enhance not just tourism income, but also the quality of experience for visitors.
“This is a marked improvement on the responses I received from previous minister Diane Dodds in October of last year, when she reacted negatively to my urging for the integration of the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route.
“It is essential that further progress is made on this in order to support the re-emergence of the tourism sector in Derry.
“Connecting the two routes is a recognised objective of the Irish government, which is specified in its Programme for Government.
“It must be actively supported on a cross-party basis within the Northern Ireland Executive.
“This has the full support of the SDLP. Other parties must share this commitment.”