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Belfast 'engine room' of tourism as city welcomes 1.36m visitors

By John Mulgrew

Published 22/07/2016

Belfast
Belfast
Titanic Belfast
Giant's Causeway

Belfast continues to be the main draw of Northern Ireland tourism, with visitor numbers increasing significantly.

The city, along with the Giant's Causeway and the stunning north coast, is responsible for pulling in huge numbers, according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

While the overall number of tourists visiting Northern Ireland remained largely flat in 2015, falling by a marginal amount year-on-year, almost a third of all overnight trips were to Belfast.

The city saw its number of visitors rise to 1.36 million, while almost 4.7 million visited Northern Ireland as a whole.

Spending across the region's destinations during the period rose by 1.2% to over £760m.

The Giant's Causeway remains our most popular single attraction, with 850,000 visits last year. Close behind, with around 620,000, was Titanic Belfast.

Visit Belfast chairman Dr Howard Hastings said the city was "really asserting itself as a destination on the rise for business, leisure and cruise tourism".

"Belfast continues to the be engine room of Northern Ireland tourism, driving tourism numbers and visitor spend to the wider region," he added.

Lord Mayor Brian Kingston claimed the latest figures "confirm the growing popularity of Belfast as a break destination".

"This year we have around 80 cruise shops docking in Belfast Harbour, and we have growth in the number of conferences and conventions coming to Belfast, particularly with the opening of the new conference centre at the Waterfront Hall - that has directly stimulated the growth of new hotels in Belfast," he added.

"We take pride in seeing big international events coming to Belfast and Northern Ireland, and I hope these figures will be an encouragement to all those who are contributing to our tourism economy."

And Doreen McKenzie, owner of Knock Travel, explained that with a weak pound she expected a rising number of European and US tourists.

Northern Ireland could be in line for a greater number of EU tourists this year thanks to new air routes, some from Ryanair's base at the International Airport.

Belfast Telegraph

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