Economic recovery in Northern Ireland 'will be based on tourism'
The Northern Ireland tourism sector will double in size over the next decade and create another 12,000 jobs.
Those are the findings of a report by Deloitte which said the industry, worth £1.6bn a year at present, will grow to £3.2bn by 2025.
Carried out on behalf of agency Visit Britain, it said the total number of people employed in the industry here will climb to 55,000 during that period from 43,000 at present.
And the economic impact of tourism is not just confined to hotels and tourist attractions.
The Deloitte report said tourism has a multipier effect of 2.2 in Northern Ireland, a statistic which means that for every £1 generated in a direct tourist business, another £1.20 is spent in other parts of the economy such as pubs, restaurants or taxis.
And for the UK as a whole, the prospects look encouraging.
Inbound tourism is expected to grow by 6% a year to £57bn in 2025 from £21bn at present across the UK.
But there is potential for more.
If the UK matched up to the success of its European neighbours in attracting tourists from the likes of China, it could increase the value of inbound tourism by an extra £12bn by 2025 to £69bn.
Northern Ireland Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said the report bodes well for the sector.
"I welcome the fact that the report demonstrates tourism's increasing contribution to the Northern Ireland economy over the last three years, its future growth potential and its important role in presenting a positive image for Northern Ireland internationally," she said.
"As the report shows, a thriving tourism industry will be crucial to economic recovery, but it is also a major asset in rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy and a key driver for creating wealth, profits and jobs."
Christopher Rodrigues, Visit Britain chairman, said that the tourism sector was essential to the economy.
"Our record performance since the Olympics bodes well for the future, but to achieve the industry's full potential we need to continue to raise our game, marry policy and marketing and promote the UK even more aggressively overseas," he said.