The latest stop-off point on Northern Ireland’s booming tourism trail was revealed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council this week.
Working alongside the Federation of Passenger Transport, Council has secured a new drop-off spot in the Borough, making it easier than ever for coachloads of visitors to explore Mid and East Antrim’s array of tourism and retail offerings.
The move is intended to make it more attractive for coach passengers and operators to include the borough in their itineraries and provides the ideal, central location from which to take in the borough.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Paul Reid, said: “Our borough is blessed with a vast range of spectacular attractions, including incredible scenery, natural and built heritage, award-winning hotels and fantastic shops, restaurants and cafes.
“The introduction of the new coach set down and pick up stop on Bridge Street, Ballymena, will make it even easier for visitors to enjoy those offerings. The location was identified due to its ease of access and close proximity to Ballymena town centre.
“Those stepping off coaches will be able to visit the impressive Braid building, including our tourism information centre, and make use of the facilities on the premises.”
The DUP representative continued: “The siting will also increase footfall at that end of Ballymena, bringing more people to the doors of businesses based in the area.
“People come from around the world to experience our magnificent Causeway Coastal Route, and as it weaves its way through Mid and East Antrim, it showcases the best of our borough’s attractions.
“We are committed to doing all we can to ensure Ballymena and other towns and villages in Mid and East Antrim benefit from that huge interest from around the world and include those areas when they are planning their trips.”
The new coach stop is now in operation, along with designated parking adjacent to the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena.
As an added incentive to coach companies across Northern Ireland, the UK and Ireland, the council has also agreed to provide visiting coach drivers with free access to the leisure centre whilst utilising the new coach parking in Ballymena.
All they have to do is sign-in at the centre’s reception and show relevant documentation.
The new stop-off point was identified and agreed following consultation with the Department for Infrastructure.
Karen Magill, Chief Executive of the Federation of Passenger Transport Northern Ireland, said: “The Federation and its members are delighted with the new coach facilities and the commitment made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to the needs of coach companies and their passengers. We look forward to continuing our work with the council in their efforts to develop coach tourism potential.”
The Mayor added: “Our retail and tourism offering in Mid and East Antrim has superb potential and is crucial to delivering on our number one strategic priority - growing our economy.
“Ballymena has the largest percentage of independent retailers in comparison to any other town within the province. The range and quality of retail experience combined with cheap and accessible parking make Ballymena a key destination for retail experience.
“In addition, those throughout the world are quickly discovering that Mid and East Antrim has some of the most beautiful and scenic land and seascapes in Europe. We will continue to do all in our powers to promote and nurture our incredible economic and tourism potential.”