Londonderry Chamber of Commerce
The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce held its annual dinner on Friday, 20th October, in the White Horse Hotel. The event was, as always, very well attended by local business leaders.
The annual Chamber address was given by Vice President Philip Gilliland, who will be President during 2013 UK City of Culture year.
He told Chamber members that City of Culture meant much more than increasing the capacity, ability and success of our tourism industry and enhancing the reputation of the city as a major centre of arts and culture. “The principal legacy of the City of Culture will be the permanent establishment of Derry as a place for talented young people to choose to study, live, work and start a business,” he said.
“For maximum effect, 2013 has to show the world that Derry is creative, constructive, global and confident. I have no doubt that the year in this respect will be good – but the challenge before us all is to make sure the year is more than good – to make sure it is excellent.
“We look forward to seeing tangible marketing product [of City of Culture] in the rest of Northern Ireland, in the Republic and in Britain. And I am confident that we will.”
Philip Gilliland added that the city centre must be supported to maximise opportunities offered by City of Culture and to withstand its current challenges. He said: “For maximum effect, 2013 needs an animated and vibrant city centre: excellent and innovative retail, cultural and night-time attractions, and an improved public realm.
“There is no doubt that there are challenges for independent retailers and that rates of city centre vacancy are too high. We continue to view the sheer volume of out of town planning applications with concern. However there are tangible positives: the public realm work that has been completed along the Foyle has met with universal acclaim, and there is more to come. We welcome the impending - if belated - lighting of the Walls. And most importantly: visitor numbers are steadily increasing. Last year there was a 19% year on year growth; this year will probably be at least as good. So our challenge is to find modern and engaging ways to part our visitors from their cash. There is opportunity there.”
Philip Gilliland ended his speech with a strong call to politicians to provide the means for Derry-Londonderry to grow its economy. “The biggest single governmental intervention that has the power to turn that reach into a grasp – bigger even than lowering corporation tax rates, or providing fit and proper roads to Belfast and Dublin, all of which we support - is to give full force and effect to the university [expansion] pledges within the One Plan which is now in the Programme for Government. Such expansion will lead, supply and nurture the nascent digital economy renaissance, as well as delivering many other well-rehearsed economic benefits.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west