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Ulster American Folk Park draws biggest numbers ever

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Culture Minister, Edwin Poots, MLA, has announced record visitor figures for the Ulster American Folk Park in Co Tyrone.

Speaking today during a visit to the award-winning museum, which is part of National Museums Northern Ireland, the Minister said: “Nearly 165,000 visitors were welcomed here between April 2007 and March 2008 - an 11% increase over the previous year and the highest since the Ulster American Folk Park opened over 30 years ago.”

Minister Poots says the Ulster American Folk Park visitor numbers are particularly encouraging in the drive to increase tourism.

“The Ulster American Folk Park keeps going from strength to strength and its visitor base has grown keenly. This is an encouraging result particularly as the new season approaches.

“The Ulster American Folk Park plays a pivotal role in delivering learning programmes about our identity and the influence of Ulster people in shaping the economy and society of North America. It is also a key economic asset in the area employing over 100 staff and providing a must-see tourism destination,” said the Minister.

Tim Cooke, Chief Executive of National Museums Northern Ireland, which also manages the Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Armagh County Museum and W5, says the museum group offers great opportunities for fun and learning.

“We are constantly working to widen our audiences and make our museums more accessible. We are delighted that people throughout Northern Ireland who are not regular visitors to museums, are now experiencing and learning from our collections in a dynamic and interactive manner,” he says.

National Museums Northern Ireland says the growth in visitors from the Republic of Ireland has been particularly impressive.

“The Ulster American Folk Park’s annual Bluegrass Festival for example, has been a main fixture on our events calendar for more than sixteen years now but last year’s event shows a dramatic increase in numbers of visitors from south of the border with 17% of overall visitors to the Festival travelling from the Republic of Ireland,” says Mr Cooke.

Approximately 71% of all visitors to the Ulster American Folk Park were from Northern Ireland and 10% from the Republic of Ireland. Around 19% of visitors are from Europe, USA and elsewhere.

Notes to Editors:

About National Museums Northern Ireland

National Museums Northern Ireland is the holding group funded by the Department for Culture Arts and Leisure and which manages Northern Ireland’s five leading museums including the Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Ulster American Folk Park, Armagh County Museum and W5.

National Museums Northern Ireland media contacts: Sinead Cunningham Sinead.cunningham@nmni.com or Joris Minne, JPR, joris.minne@jprni.com

Media enquiries to DCAL Press Office on 028 90 258902 or email: press.office@dcalni.gov.uk Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.