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An “image problem” may explain a fall in visitor numbers to Northern Ireland from across the border, according to a review of the tourism industry.

Overnight visitors from the Republic of Ireland declined by 7% in 2013.

A report for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) said “social unrest over parades and flags” had potentially had an impact.

It also said the local tourism industry was worried about “continuing sectarianism and racial prejudice”.

The report said there needed to be “concerted action to promote a safe and secure image of Northern Ireland, including targeted marketing”.

The review was ordered by DETI minister Arlene Foster last year.

It calls for a need “to deepen the relationship” between the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Invest NI.

It rules out a merger, but suggests a shared office and renaming the Tourist Board either Visit NI or Discover NI.

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I completely understand that sometimes a change of name or re-brand is good for organisations or businesses but aren’t we missing the point here?

Of course the tourist board, in whatever guise it adopts, must do it’s utmost to promote the image of Northern Ireland as a great place to visit but… politicians calling for this kind of change whilst simultaneously entrenched in the kind of politics that is facilitating and enabling our image problem… erm?

Meanwhile, the number of parades in Northern Ireland have reportedly doubled in the past eight years… [source]

So, flags and parades aren’t going anywhere anytime soon…

And…. the troubling racist incidents that we keep hearing about!

The social unrest continues eh? It will be fine if we tell people it’s great… even when it isn’t!