The Mourne Heritage Trust has announced that a major project to enhance the tourism potential of the south east coast of Northern Ireland commenced on Monday 24th November.
The marking of the ‘Mourne Coastal Driving Route’ with the distinctive and internationally recognised ‘White on Brown’ tourism signage will complement the existing ‘Causeway Coastal Route’ and provide a highly marketable new tourism product.
The route signage will stretch between Belfast and the city of Newry, via Belfast, the Ards Peninsula, the Lecale coast and, in the words of the famous song, ‘the place where the mountains sweep down to the sea’.
A number of scenic loops will also take visitors into the heart of the Mournes, Slieve Croob and Slieve Roosley as well as the Ards Peninsula. Several amenity sites along the intended route have been upgraded in recent years with signature entrance features and site furniture, while upgrades are planned at several other locations.
However, the phase of the development now getting underway involves only the installation of 269 new road traffic signs ranging up to 22 square metres and necessitating in some cases the removal and replacement of existing signs.
The project, which will be completed by the end of March 2013, will cover locations in the local authority areas of Belfast, North Down, Ards, Down, Newry & Mourne and Banbridge respectively. It has been developed and will be co-ordinated by Mourne Heritage Trust in conjunction with Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
The latter is also providing the bulk of the funding through its Tourism Development Scheme, with additional input from each of the relevant local councils and the Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas (SOAR).
Commenting on the new initiative, Stephen Bill, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Destination Manager said, “When complete, I am confident that the Mourne Coastal Route driving trail will attract many visitors from both at home and abroad. This is a great tourism project and one which NITB is pleased to support through the Tourism Development Scheme.”
“The route’s location, from Belfast to Newry, and the amenity improvements along this scenic way, is an important element of the on-going work to build on the achievements of tourism activity in 2012 and will also contribute to strengthening Northern Ireland’s position as a must visit destination” he added.