Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster will visit Canada next week, to promote trade and tourism links with Northern Ireland and meet existing investors.
The Minister will travel on 28 June 2009 to participate in two days of meetings in Toronto and Montreal.
Speaking in advance of her visit, the Minister said: “Canada is an important trading partner for Northern Ireland, both as a market for locally produced goods and services, and as a source of inward investment.
“We currently have some 70 Northern Ireland companies exporting to Canada but I am convinced that there is scope for many more to do so and to grow the current £375million of manufacturing exports further. I therefore intend to meet with key business influencers and companies to promote the Northern Ireland business proposition.
“Local businesses, such as Cookstown-based FSL Electronics, have won their first contracts as a direct result of participation on Invest NI trade missions to the region. The company used Invest NI’s most recent trade mission in March, to finalise a deal to provide one of its electronic scoreboards to the prestigious Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, giving it a valuable foothold in this large market.”
The Minister believes the visit is vital to demonstrate her and the Executive’s commitment to those major investors here in Northern Ireland.
She said: “During my forthcoming visit, I will also be meeting senior management at both Bombardier and Nortel, two of our long established inward investors. At a time when both of these companies are feeling the effects of the challenging economic global conditions in different ways, it is important that I and my Ministerial colleagues continue to engage with them and to reaffirm the commitment of the Executive to providing the most supportive environment possible to them.”
The Minister highlighted Project Kelvin, Northern Ireland’s new direct international communications link with North America, as being a key element for attracting inward investment into the region.
She continued: “Project Kelvin will be an important factor in developing further trade development initiatives, and increasing the attractiveness of Northern Ireland as an inward investment location for Canadian companies.
“This two day visit will allow me to promote this new direct international communications link between Northern Ireland and Canada. Project Kelvin will transform how we connect to both North America and Europe, opening up new markets and new trade opportunities for Northern Ireland companies.”
Arlene Foster will also meet with Canadian tour operators and travel media during her two day visit.
She said: “In recent years, overseas tourism to Northern Ireland has grown faster than tourism to Western Europe in general. In fact, in the period 2002-2007, revenue from overseas visitors grew by 27%. Last year we attracted 1.7 million visitors, with 160,000 of those coming from North America.
“Tourism Ireland has an extensive promotional programme in place in Canada and the US for 2009, highlighting Northern Ireland as a leading holiday destination with vibrant cities and wonderful landscapes.
“Despite the worldwide recession, I remain committed to doing all I can to boost our tourism industry and will use my time in Canada to reinforce the message that Northern Ireland is a must-see destination.”