Dungannon and South Tyrone Area Plan 2010
Policy Framework: Tourism
Tourism in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough is based predominantly on the area's natural and built heritage, with Lough Neagh and the Clogher Valley providing the major focal points for a range of recreational and tourism activities. There is also a number of specific tourist attractions such as Tyrone Crystal, Peatlands Park, Parkanaur Forest Park, and the Grant Ancestral Home.
Tourism can provide a number of economic and social benefits and whilst there is considerable potential for future growth of this sector within Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough, this should not be at the expense of its environmental assets. This is in line with the approach of Northern Ireland Tourist Board, as outlined in its document 'Tourism in Northern Ireland - A Sustainable Approach'. This sets out the principles of sustainable tourism that will be applied by the Tourist Board in assessing proposals for tourism development throughout Northern Ireland.
The promotion and marketing of tourism is primarily the responsibility of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council which also operates and supports a wide range of tourism-based facilities such as picnic, caravan and amenity sites, e.g., Dungannon Park and Round Lough, Fivemiletown. Other public agencies such as Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Forest Service and the Department's Environment and Heritage Service have opened up historic and specialist interest sites to the public e.g. Parkanaur Forest Park, Mountjoy Castle and Knockmany Passage Tomb, and provided facilities such as walks, caravan and camping facilities. Most tourism accommodation, such as hotels and self-catering chalets, is provided by the private sector which also contributes to the provision of other tourism and associated facilities such as restaurants, cafes and craft shops.
Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council's tourism development strategy recommends that the principal image for the Borough should be as 'a clean, hospitable, quality rural area in a central location'.
Regional Policy Context
One of the key roles of the Regional Development Strategy (RDS) is to provide the spatial framework to accommodate changing tourism and leisure habits, whilst conserving the key assets of the natural and built environment. The RDS provides the following guidelines:
- to promote a sustainable approach to the provision of tourism infrastructure;
- to establish a world wide image for Northern Ireland, based on positive images of progress, and attractive places to visit;
- to protect and enhance a varied range of tourism development opportunities; and
- ·to identify Major Tourism Development Opportunities for the Private Sector to Develop 'Destination Resort' complexes in Northern Ireland, based on distinctive Tourism Themes.
The Department's regional planning policies for tourism in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough are currently set out in A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland. This contains policies for tourism development, tourism accommodation and the protection of tourism assets. It also addresses caravan and camping sites and advance directional signs.
Lough Neagh, as one of the Borough's principal natural assets, is likely to attract visitors to the area. However, the important conservation interests of the area are likely to limit tourism development opportunities. Accordingly, the Department designates locations within this area that it considers are capable of best accommodating sympathetic and sustainable tourist schemes. These Tourism Opportunity Zones are identified on the Borough Map No. 1 b.
The designation of these two areas does not preclude consideration of tourist facilities in other locations throughout the Borough. Outside of the Tourism Opportunity Zones, tourism related proposals will be determined in accordance with prevailing regional planning policy.
Realising the tourism potential of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough will require investment in marketing, product development and physical facilities in terms of visitor infrastructure, especially visitor accommodation. However, since a vibrant tourism sector depends on a quality host environment, its expansion must be based on provision of quality tourism facilities and accommodation that contribute to the sustainability of the industry. Sustainability does not imply the total avoidance of environmental impact. However, development that complies with the basic principles of good design and landscaping in terms of sympathetic location, sensitive siting and respect for vernacular traditions will ensure that new facilities minimise detrimental effects whilst securing the long-term future of tourism resources.