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Northern Ireland Gears up for Mountain Biking


Over two hundred and fifty businesses attended a series of Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) Industry Development Seminars last week to hear how rural economies and tourism businesses can benefit from the flagship mountain bike trails currently under construction across the country. 

With approximately 90km of sustainable mountain biking trails due to be launched in the Spring, including Ireland’s first purpose-built downhill trails in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland is expected to attract upwards of 50,000 mountain bike visitors in the first year alone.

NITB’s Product Marketing, Culture, Heritage and Activities Manager, Rosemary Lightbody explains, “2013 will be an exciting year for mountain biking in Northern Ireland with official trail launches planned for Castlewellan, Rostrevor, Barnett Demesne in Belfast and Davagh Forest in the Sperrins.”

Miss Lightbody continued, “Mountain bikers all across the UK and Ireland have been eagerly awaiting purpose-built trail centres in Northern Ireland for the last ten years. With construction work now nearing completion, we want to compliment these world class trails by empowering local communities and private sector tourism businesses to work together to provide high quality visitor facilities.”

At each of the seminars, delegates heard from industry experts on how cafes, pubs and accommodation providers can best cater for visiting mountain bikers. NITB also distributed pocket sized toolkits aimed to stimulate ideas for partnership opportunities with useful tips on how tourism businesses can become ‘mountain bike friendly’.

The key message from seminar hosts, Outdoor Recreation NI, was that the real success of the mountain bike trails developments across Northern Ireland was now in the hands of the private sector to pick up the reigns and offer high quality visitor services to encourage bed nights and increase visitor spend in the local economy.

Chris Scott, Activity Tourism Manager for Outdoor Recreation NI, explained “There is no doubt that Northern Ireland has the perfect landscape for mountain biking and by the Spring we will boast some of the finest trails in Europe. However it is important that we also offer ‘mountain bike friendly’ places to stay, eat, drink and relax.”

Mr Scott continued, “These trails will be a catalyst for activity tourism across the country and we are confident that the private sector will rise to the challenge and make Northern Ireland a ‘visitor focused’ mountain biking destination.”

These Northern Ireland Tourist Board seminars were supported by Cookstown District Council, Down District Council and Newry and Mourne District Council with input from the Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance and Outdoor Recreation NI.

Visit www.outdoorrecreationni.com for more information on each of the four mountain bike trail centres currently under construction across Northern Ireland.

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