Holidaymakers from Irish Republic up a quarter
The number of holidaymakers from the Republic of Ireland visiting Northern Ireland increased by a quarter last year, it was revealed today.
Revenue increased to almost £50 million last year, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster added.
The strong euro has been attracting southern consumers in recent months.
"This is very positive news and a welcome boost to the industry and the wider economy," she said.
"The increase in visitor numbers has exceeded expectations for growth in 2008 and the statistics reinforce that Northern Ireland has a unique and appealing range of things to see and do."
In 2008 367,000 trips were made by residents of the Republic of Ireland, a 14% increase on the previous year. Revenue also increased by 16%.
Ms Foster added: "Closer to home markets are key to delivering long-term growth for our tourism industry.
"Short-term opportunities are available through the strong euro, however to maximise the benefits in the future we must continue to promote an excellent and value for money experience across Northern Ireland."
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has invested heavily in marketing domestically and within the Republic.
Tourist Board chief operating officer Kathryn Thompson said: "Particularly pleasing is the significant rise in pure holiday visitors from the Republic of Ireland, demonstrating that visitors from this market are not simply here for shopping and day trips.
"More and more visitors are coming here to experience the many attractions that Northern Ireland has to offer."
The Tourist Board is preparing to launch its summer campaign which will run from June to September across TV, radio, press, outdoor and online and will be strongly represented at tourist sites and ports of entry.
Ms Thompson added: "The campaign will continue to position Northern Ireland as an excellent short break destination packed full of things to see and do and hidden gems just waiting to be discovered."