Belfast's hotel rooms and docks are filling up with eager visitors, according to a new report.
STR Global said an an influx of visitors to the city helped boost sales of hotel rooms by 14% in 2012 while the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau (BVCB), which commissioned the research, said a record number of cruise ships are due to visit in 2013. It has 58 vessels, with around 108,000 passengers and crew, on its books for this year – up from the 44 vessels which visited in 2012.
Meanwhile, the research showed average occupancy in Belfast's hotels stood at 74% in 2012, up from 66% in 2011 with monthly occupancy rates peaking at 89% in the summer.
Just under one million hotel rooms were sold throughout the year and room revenue rose by 18%.
BVCB is charged with developing tourism in Belfast and released the data while reviewing its own performance last year.
The organisation said its marketing activities contributed £60m to the local economy in 2012 by generating 313,000 tourist bed nights and 217,000 day trips to the city, according to STR Global and other independent research sources.
It also said its conference team generated 21,000 delegate attendees and 63,000 bed nights to the city in 2012 with an economic value of £27m, up 70% on 2011.
BVCB said it wants to grow hotel bed nights by a further 8%, bringing in 31,000 conference and events delegates which it says will have an economic impact value of £37m.
Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson welcomed the figures:
"It (BVCB) is a first-class example of one of the city's most successful public-private partnerships, with a proven track record in delivering the city's tourism, marketing, sales and visitor services.
BVCB chief executive Gerry Lennon said the future is bright:
"From a tourism perspective, Belfast is in a strong position to grow further in 2013 and we have much to look forward to."
He added: "Our aim is to ensure that Belfast performs well in the competition for local and international visitors and that tourism continues to deliver local growth while sustaining and creating new jobs."
BVCB is a partnership supported by Belfast City Council, NITB and commercial partners Diageo NI and Value Cabs. Its membership also includes around 500 businesses from the city's tourism and hospitality industry.