Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Northern Ireland tourist spending could rise by 33%, claims new report

Northern Ireland could see foreign tourist spending rise by 33% to over £314m by 2017, according to a new report from Barclays.

The research said spend on retail, hospitality and leisure is set to significantly increase as more overseas visitors come to Northern Ireland, lured by sporting events and even TV programmes shot in the province.

The independent forecast predicts that overseas tourists will spend £148m on hospitality and leisure, up 32% from £112m in 2013.

Spend on retail is also expected to rise by 37% to £126m, up from £92m in 2013.

Adrian Doran, head of corporate banking for Barclays, said: “Major sporting events in the next few years will undoubtedly attract additional overseas visitors to Northern Ireland, with Belfast hosting the opening stages of the Giro D’Italia this month, and the Irish Open coming to Royal Co Down in 2015 and Lough Erne in 2017.

“In addition, Northern Ireland’s growing reputation within the film and TV industry, and the incredible popularity of the Titanic Visitor Centre will further help to bolster tourism and contribute to predictions for an increase in spending by overseas tourists.”

He said spending on accommodation was predicted to increase from £52m to £68m.

“We are already seeing new planning applications being submitted and approved, which reflects increasing confidence in this high growth sector.”

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the research was “encouraging” and added that tourism had a bright future — partly thanks to Northern Ireland becoming a location for films and shows such as fantasy TV series Game of Thrones which is filmed by HBO.

Hugh McCloy, organiser of tie-in tourist attraction Tour of Thrones, said the tour had generated major interest from the international tourist market.

“During the summer we are seeing pre-bookings from the American, French and Nordic markets which has led to us developing a second route for the Game Of Thrones tours.”

He added: “Through the current Game Of Thrones tour we have already had requests from foreign media to showcase what we offer, with France 2 seeking permission to film a documentary following French tourists on a tour in Northern Ireland.”

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