Posted on Thursday 12 April 2012 by Ulster Business

Tourism spend in NI on the up

Overseas visitors spent an estimated £368m in Northern Ireland during 2011, an increase of 20% compared with the previous year, according to official statistics.

The figures, published today by the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Investment, showed 1.5 million overseas visitors spent at least one night in Northern Ireland, up 4% on 2010.

Both DETI and Tourism Ireland said the numbers were an indication that Northern Ireland’s tourism industry was already heading in the right direction before plans were launched to achieve a marked increase in income from the sector as part of the ni2012 Our Time, Our Place campaign.

Tourism Minister, Arlene Foster said: “These figures prove that overseas visitors want to come to see all that Northern Ireland has to offer and when they do come they spend money and help boost the economy.

“It is really encouraging to see that so many tourists visited Northern Ireland last year and bodes well for 2012 when there is a jam-packed programme of exciting events and openings taking place. The stunning Titanic Belfast opened a few weeks ago and sold out in the first two weeks.

“Overseas visitors and local people can now look forward to the Irish Open in Portrush, the opening of the new Giant’s Causeway visitors centre as well as many other events taking place across Northern Ireland. From the International Beckett festival in Fermanagh, through to the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in Londonderry, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

“Next year too promises to be another amazing year with Londonderry taking pride of place as the UK City of Culture and the World Police and Fire Games.”

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, added: “The growth of +20% in revenue generated by overseas visitors to Northern Ireland in 2011 and the increase of +4% in visitor numbers for 2011 is welcome news indeed for everyone in the tourism industry in Northern Ireland.

“2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for tourism to Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland is rolling out the most extensive programme of promotional activity ever undertaken for Northern Ireland around the globe. Our ni2012 promotions will reach over 100 million people – or potential holidaymakers – this year. The hugely successful opening of Titanic Belfast has already helped to generate massive worldwide publicity for Belfast and for Northern Ireland – with millions of people everywhere seeing or reading about it in high profile media outlets like the LA Times, the Washington Times, Huffington Post, CBS News, Sky News, to name but a few.

“With other upcoming events like the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, the Peace One Day concert, as well as the completion of the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre this summer, we are telling people everywhere that there has never been a better time to come and visit Northern Ireland.”

DETI said that, as of September last year, tourism and leisure jobs accounted for 8% of all employee jobs in the province, in line with the year before.

Local people also contribute significantly to tourism spend within Northern Ireland. During 2011, an estimated 1.9 million overnight trips where taken by local residents with an expenditure of around £171m, and residents took an estimated 6.4 million leisure day trips within the country, spending £133m.

Some 1,968,000 hotel, guesthouse and bed and breakfast rooms were sold in 2011, a rise of 4% when compared with 2010.

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