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City is boosted by £97m from conferences and tourists

By Margaret Canning

Published 24/09/2016

Tourists visiting Belfast and conferences held in the city generated £97m for the economy in 2015/16 - up 30% on the year before, it has been claimed
Tourists visiting Belfast and conferences held in the city generated £97m for the economy in 2015/16 - up 30% on the year before, it has been claimed

Tourists visiting Belfast and conferences held in the city generated £97m for the economy in 2015/16 - up 30% on the year before, it has been claimed.

Visit Belfast, which markets the city as a destination, said the period had been its most successful 12 months yet.

The body added that the £97m referred to "the direct contribution that Visit Belfast delivers to the city through our sales and marketing activities".

It measured spending by delegates during conferences and by cruise visitors using industry standards.

It also used research company Milward Brown Ulster to measure the return on spending on marketing campaigns to attract short-break visitors.

But there was a fall in the number of cruise ships docking in the city, from 63 in 2014/15 to 59 in the most recent year.

However, the 59 ships from operators such as Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and P&O brought 116,000 visitors - up 3,000 on the year before.

Visit Belfast said 303,000 guests spent the night in the city's hotels, up 4.5% on the previous figure.

The number of conference wins for the city grew by just one to 70 during 2015/16 - but Visit Belfast said the value of conferences to the city was growing.

However, figures from business advisers PwC on Thursday said hotels in Belfast had experienced falling average occupancy rates in the year to June 2016, from 79% to 75%.

PwC also warned that the city's increasing number of new hotels meant that supply could outstrip demand.

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