THE CEO of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Alan Clarke has visited Scarva to meet with the Sham Fight Committee at an event organised by Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson.
The meeting and presentation took place at the Scarva Visitor Centre and was attended by members of the Sham Fight Committee from RBP 1000 as well as local Ulster Unionist councillors Joan Baird, Liz Ingram and John Hanna.
Mrs Dobson outlined the importance of the Thirteenth to the local economy in terms of tourism potential.
“The Sham Fight on July 13 is the second largest tourism event in Northern Ireland after the North West 200 and it happens on our doorstep in Scarva,” she said.
“Our local area has a wealth of tourism potential and I was delighted to welcome Alan Clarke to Scarva to meet with councillors, council officials, retailers and others who are interested in ensuring that we are realising our full tourist potential.
“Promoting tourism can bring a much-needed retail boost for our local towns and villages.”
Mrs Dobson said she has been pressing the Tourism Minister at Stormont to ensure tourism funds are “evenly distributed” across Northern Ireland and not just centred in one place or location.
She added, “The Sham Fight at Scarva is one of the ways in which I believe that we can promote our heritage for the benefit of all, as well as increasing the footfall in our towns and villages.
“We all pay or taxes and should benefit equally, as towns and communities, from how our money is spent.
“Since this visit to Scarva the issue of the promotion of the Sham Fight has also been raised at the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee meeting by my party colleague Sandra Overend MLA.
“I am hopeful that the Tourist Board will look into ways of assisting the members of RBP 1000 to achieve their aim of increasing visitor numbers at future Thirteenth celebrations in Scarva.”
The tourism chief also attended a meeting with local councillors and officials in Banbridge to explore the potential for increased tourism in the Banbridge area and across the local towns.