Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed today’s announcement by Belfast Harbour that they are to invest £7million in creating a purpose-built cruise facility in Titanic Quarter.
Over recent years, Belfast has become a popular destination for international cruise companies as a Port of call. Last year, 45 cruise ships and approximately 75,000 passengers and crew visited the City and it is estimated that £3.9million was generated in visitor spend.
Welcoming the announcement Arlene Foster said: “Since the first cruise ship docked in Belfast in 1996, our local cruise sector has become a thriving industry. Luxury liners are bringing large numbers of visitors to our shores and passenger numbers are forecast to grow again this year.
“Today’s announcement is particularly exciting because it will ensure that Belfast is equipped to handle cruise ships which carry over 4,500 passengers and crew. It will also enable passengers to disembark within walking distance of Titanic Belfast, the Pump house, and the SS Nomadic.
“Last year 471,702 visitors came to Titanic Belfast from 128 countries outside Northern Ireland. Now that the last remaining vessel of the White Star Line, the SS Nomadic, has opened for visitors on the Belfast docks where she was built, visitors to the Port can enjoy a very special experience.”
Highlighting the fact that there are valuable opportunities for tourism businesses if they can find ways to connect with the cruise market, Arlene Foster concluded: “Belfast is also an ideal location for Cruise ships as no part of Northern Ireland is more than one and a half hours by road for visitors. All of our tourist attractions are easily accessible and tourists are able to go and see the very best of what Northern Ireland has to offer during their stay.”