Belfast Telegraph

Staycationers drive tourism growth

Tourism market is still being buoyed by home tourists

By John Mulgrew

Staycationers are making the most significant cash contribution to tourism despite growth in visitors from Britain and the US, figures suggest.

The latest tourism figures paint a mixed picture for Northern Ireland over the last nine months.

Overall trip numbers rose by 8% to 3.44 million up to September 2014 - with a significant jump in those travelling from the US for holiday purposes.

But overall, Northern Ireland is still being buoyed by those travelling within our shores.

And while total tourism spending in Northern Ireland saw an increase of around 6% to £592m over the last nine months, when domestic travel figures are stripped out, spending actually suffered a 3% fall.

The number of overseas visitors grew by 3% on the same period in 2013 - while those coming to holiday here shot up by 11%.

That was made up of visitors from Britain and the US - with the latter witnessing an increase of almost a quarter.

But the number of those travelling from the Republic declined - with 13% fewer overnight trips to Northern Ireland.

More than half of overnight trips here are from Northern Ireland residents - made up of a combination of holidaymakers, business visits, and trips to see friends and family.

And the rise seems to be down to those holidaying here. The figures also show 69 cruise ships docked in Northern Ireland in the 12 months to September 2014 - that's up from just 32 in 2011.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) said the latest figures showed "increases in all key performance measures".

The figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are based on small sample surveys.

But they do carry a margin of error or what the report refers to as 'confidence intervals', with potential variation of some 6% on the overnight trip figures.

Northern Ireland's has benefited from several new additions to its tourism attractions. That includes Titanic Belfast and the ever-popular Games of Thrones tours, which take in much of the north coast -with the Giro d'Italia also drawing in crowds from overseas last year.

A NITB spokesman said: "The statistics cover the nine-month period that saw the excitement of the Giro d'Italia, as well as the Game of Thrones exhibition at Belfast Waterfront, very high visitor levels at the Giant's Causeway and visitors to Titanic Belfast reaching 1.5m."

Belfast Telegraph

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