Researchers at the University of Ulster have said that the transport system in Northern Ireland must be improved in order for the country to compete globally. This comes after a study found that tourists preferred travelling by car than public transport.
The research project, carried out by the university’s business school, revealed that tourists to Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway only used public transport in 4% of cases. Meanwhile, 83% travelled by private car due to “convenience”.
Dr Norry McBride, one of the researchers, highlighted the necessity for change within the transport sector.
“Visitor numbers are expected to reach 4.5 million by 2020, up from 3.2 million in 2010; and visitor revenues are set to almost double to £1 billion in 2020, up from £544m in 2010”, he said.
“Therefore an appropriate transport system is essential to support the predicted growth in tourism.”
A conference named Sustainable Transport for Rural Tourism was held last week in Derry-Londonderry, where representatives from transport providers met to share knowledge and experience for best practice. Speakers at the conference included representatives from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Sustrans, Translink, Special EU Programmes Body and Derry City Council.
The calls for change in Northern Ireland’s transport system come after UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon pledged $175 billion towards creating sustainable transport networks in 2012. The French government also announced in May that it would provide incentives for sustainable transport initiatives.