Magherafelt Area Plan 2015
Strategic Plan Framework: Tourism
The potential for growth in tourism within the District rests on the beauty of the landscapes and variety of interests and heritage features to be enjoyed. Lough Neagh, Lough Beg, the Lower Bann, Moyola River and the Sperrin Mountains are recognised for the quality of their natural landscapes. The District’s built heritage is wide-ranging and varied, and includes historic buildings such as Bellaghy Bawn, and historic monuments such as St. Lurach’s old church in Maghera.
The historic Magherafelt town is located in the heart of mid Ulster and is well placed in relation to the Regional Strategic Transport Network. It is located close to the Sperrin Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has the potential to develop further as a base for touring within the District.
Promotion and marketing of tourism in the District is primarily the responsibility of Magherafelt District Council. It operates a range of local tourist facilities including picnic and amenity sites. The Department of Environment and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provide additional facilities such as specifically assigned tourist walks as well as access to sites in their care.
There are a number of other bodies which are concerned with tourism in the area. Sperrins Tourism Limited has a responsibility for the development and marketing of tourism in the Sperrins area. The Lower Bann Advisory Committee co-ordinates management and policy making amongst the statutory agencies responsible for various aspects of the Lower Bann. The Lough Neagh Advisory Committee aims to manage and enhance recreational opportunities for local people and visitors.
The private sector provides tourist accommodation in hotels, guesthouses, bed & breakfast and self-catering chalets, and other tourism services. The potential exists to develop further the range and quality of facilities.
Regional Policy Context
The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) promotes a sustainable approach to the provision of tourism infrastructure; the enhancement and development of the distinctiveness of the region as a key element of its tourism product; and the delivery of a competitive advantage through the Activity Tourism, Events Tourism, Business Tourism and Cultural Tourism sectors.
Prevailing regional planning policy for tourism development and accommodation, caravan and camping sites, signage and the protection of tourism assets is set out in the Rural Strategy.
Realising the tourism potential of the District will continue to require investment in marketing, product development and physical facilities in terms of visitor infrastructure, and especially visitor accommodation. Since a vibrant tourism sector depends on a quality host environment, its growth must be based on the provision of quality tourism facilities and accommodation that contributes to the sustainability of the industry.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is formulating a new Tourism Strategy for Northern Ireland which is intended to provide a vision and strategic direction for the development of the region’s tourism industry to 2020 along with an action plan to deliver it. This Strategy is intended to build upon the Tourism Strategic Framework for Action 2004.