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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 21 July 2021

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the protection of UNESCO world heritage sites in Northern Ireland. (902947)

I speak with ministerial colleagues regularly about the great potential for Northern Ireland tourism, although not specifically about heritage sites. However, I assure my hon. Friend that the UK Government are a signatory to the world heritage convention and have committed to upholding our commitment to that. Northern Ireland is, of course, home to one of the world’s most famous world heritage sites: the Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway coast, which I have had the pleasure of visiting. Those grand and impressive basalt columns are an incredible sight. I encourage all Members to see these wonders in person.

Northern Ireland is a jewel in the crown of our United Kingdom, boasting stunning land- scapes of great natural and ecological value, and heritage sites of cultural, historical and social significance—from the Derry walls and the Giant’s Causeway to Titanic Quarter and the mountains of Mourne. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to protect and promote Northern Ireland’s heritage sites and areas of outstanding natural beauty? Additionally, what support is he giving to the Northern Ireland Executive and relevant heritage bodies and organisations to do so?

Although tourism is a devolved matter, the Government continue to use every possible opportunity to promote Northern Ireland as a world-class tourist destination, and my hon. Friend is doing an excellent job of that himself. I am delighted to say that I have visited many of the places that he mentioned. I was very pleased to be over in Northern Ireland yesterday, meeting local business owners in Bangor to hear about their High Street Heroes Northern Ireland campaign, which celebrates the local independent retailers who are another fantastic part of Northern Ireland’s offer.