Davagh Forest gears up for mountain bike visitors

Over fifty local businesses attended a Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) Industry Development Seminar on Monday night to hear how the local economy can benefit from the flagship mountain bike trails currently under construction in Davagh Forest.

Due to be launched in the Spring, this 31km network of mountain biking and walking trails will be the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland and is expected to attract upwards of 12,000 visitors a year.

Speaking at the event, NITB’s Product Marketing, Culture, Heritage and Activities Manager, Rosemary Lightbody explained, “This event aims to empower the local private sector and encourage tourism businesses to embrace the trails as their own and make the area an attractive destination for activity enthusiasts from all over the UK and Ireland.

“The Sperrins is renowned for its warm and welcoming hospitality so if we couple this with tailored facilities for both walkers and mountain bikers, we can unlock Davagh Forest’s potential as one of Northern Ireland’s top activity tourism destinations.”

Cookstown District Council Chairman, Councillor Tony Quinn, opened Monday night’s seminar by praising the hard work of all those involved in the project and encouraged local businesses to now pick up the reigns and complement the trails with world class visitor facilities.

Speaking after the event, Cllr Quinn added, “We are very excited about the opportunities that the Davagh Forest trails hold for local accommodation providers, cafés, bars and restaurants. These trails will be a catalyst for tourism in this area and we are confident that the private sector will rise to the challenge of providing the highest quality visitor services to encourage bed nights in the area and increase visitor spend in the local economy.”

The Davagh Forest trails are one of four purpose-built trail centres currently under construction across Northern Ireland and Chris Armstrong, Marketing Officer for Outdoor Recreation NI believes it is in the hands of local tourism providers to make Northern Ireland the next ‘must visit’ mountain biking destination in the UK and Ireland.

Mr Armstrong continued, “There is no doubt that Northern Ireland has the perfect landscape for mountain biking and soon we will also 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. ”

This Northern Ireland Tourist Board event was supported by Cookstown District Council, the Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance and Outdoor Recreation NI. Visit www.outdoorrecreationni.com for more information on each of the four trail centres currently under construction across Northern Ireland.