Northern Ireland

Tourist Board concern over Titanic anniversary schedule

The Tourist Board is concerned parts of the Titanic tourist project will not be ready for the ill-fated ship's anniversary, the BBC has learned.

It said there were concerns that a £10m urban park incorporating the original Titanic and Olympic slipways would not be built by the developers on time.

The main project is more or less on target to be completed in 2012.

However, the board is worried that heritage sites linked to the Titanic will not be ready for the anniversary.

The Board said there were "over-arching concerns" over what the Titanic Quarter site would look like by next year and the impact this would have on the visitors.

The new £100m V-shaped Titanic interpretative centre known as the Titanic signature building is now clearly visible on Belfast's waterfront.

The Tourist Board also said that due to the economic climate, it was unlikely that a hotel would be built by 2012 on the key heritage site of the old Harland and Wolff drawing rooms.

This was confirmed by Mike Smith, chief executive of Titanic Quarter Limited.

He said: "The time scale of restoration will depend on market demand, if there is no demand over the next six months, it will be unlikely this building will be restored by 2012."

The issue will be scrutinised by the assembly's enterprise committee.

Its chairperson Alban Maginness said: "It is very important that all the pieces of this particular jigsaw fit together, not just the signature building itself.

"There is no room for slipping. This is a vitally important project and it is very important that it be on time."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, however, said she was confident that the signature building and its surroundings would be ready on time.

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