The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has pulled the plug on its Tourism Events Fund, which has underwriten dozens of showpiece events in the province.
The announcement last week has left organisers of some of Northern Ireland’s most popular events in a difficult situation.
Festivals such as Culture Night, which received £30,000 this year to stage 250 free events for 50,000 people and which brought in an estimated £2m to the city economy, is one event under threat.
Organiser Adam Turkington has said the Tourist Board money represented around one-third of its budget. He told the Belfast Telegraph: “As of today, I and the board are in agreement not to run the event next year.”
Speaking recently on Radio Ulster, NITB Chairman Howard Hastings had said: “The Events Fund has leveraged huge activity, not only from a civic level and so many people have participated, showcasing the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer. That in turn has attracted visitors from both the Republic of Ireland and further afield. And so there genuinely was a great pay back from the investment that we made in the Events Fund and I think that was growing and developing individual events. You could see this growing year on year and to have this jeopardised now is hugely disappointing to us”.
Londonderry’s legacy of the City of Culture is now under serious threat from the funding cut, according to many event organisers and long-term funding for major international events such as the Ulster Grand Prix and the Milk Cup is also now in doubt.
The cancelling of the fund was, said NITB, “the result of ongoing budgetary pressures across government”.
Funding already agreed for events between now and 31 March 2015 next year will not be affected.
According to NITB documents, the Tourism Events Fund contributed £2.4m to 76 events during the current financial year.
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