Full steam ahead as Titanic wins world's top tourism attraction title
Titanic Belfast has been crowned best tourist attraction in the world.
The museum, which opened in 2012, staved off competition from Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip and Peru's Macchu Picchu, to clinch the accolade at a World Travel Awards ceremony in the Maldives.
It is the first time any attraction from Ireland, north or south, has won in the 23-year history of the awards - dubbed the Tourism Oscars.
Tim Husbands, Titanic Belfast's chief executive, said he and his team were delighted at receiving the accolade: "The Titanic story captures hearts and minds throughout the world and at Titanic Belfast, this is no exception.
"With the award, we hope to attract more tourists to Northern Ireland to discover it."
First Minister, Arlene Foster, offered her congratulations.
She said: "In just four short years, Titanic Belfast has become an iconic tourist must-see, attracting over three million visitors from all over the world.
"We always knew that in Titanic Belfast, we were home to a world-class attraction that would become a global brand."
Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said: "This is terrific news for Titanic Belfast and will help in our global pitch to make the north of Ireland one of the world's top tourism destinations."
More than three million people from around the world have already visited Titanic Belfast since opening in 2012.
This year, more than 84% of the visitors came from outside Northern Ireland and the attraction has been described by travel writers as, "an inspiring testament to the Titanic and the city that built it".
Top travel industry analyst, Simon Calder, said: "It's a tremendous achievement for an attraction which is obviously having reverberations will beyond the island of Ireland and the UK.
"Jolly well done everybody!
"And if the award stimulates a few more overseas visitors to come to Titanic Belfast, that is exactly what the place needs after its very successful opening. It's always important to find new markets.
"It's marvellous news."
Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen added his praise.
"I congratulate the team at Titanic Belfast on this massive win which will not only benefit the attraction but has significance for tourism across Northern Ireland and indeed across the UK and Ireland. From the day that Titanic Belfast opened its doors in April 2012 we knew we were offering visitors a very special experience that was unique in the world and that tells the story of Titanic in a sensitive and creative way," he said.
"This accolade also signals that Titanic Belfast will be a giant of tourism for decades to come."