One of our meetings in Raleigh was with Lynn Minges, the head of tourism in North Carolina. Cultural tourism is a priorty for her department and it was useful to hear how North Carolina promotes itself as a cultural destination.
At one time the economy of north Carolina relied heavily on the manufacture of furniture and textiles but these industries have declines and they are looking to new opportunities, especially the creative industries and cultural tourism. This provides a clear parallel with Northern Ireland. We too have lost most of our heavy industries and are looking at new opportunities. The creative industries and cultural tourism are certainly two of those opportunities.
Lynn also told us there had just been an announcement of a new direct flight between Charlotte and Dublin. This will create easier access to the Carolinas and provide an opportunity for Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland has identified the Scotch-Irish market in America as a major opportunity and North Carolina is one of the states with a significant number of people who are Scotch-Irish.