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Giro d'Italia has given big boost to Italian tourism in Northern Ireland

Published 25/04/2016

The Giro d'Italia has given a big boost to the number of Italians visiting Northern Ireland
The Giro d'Italia has given a big boost to the number of Italians visiting Northern Ireland
There was a hike in visitors to the Giant's Causeway thanks to the location featuring during the start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia
There was a hike in visitor numbers to Titanic Belfast due to the location featuring during the start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

The number of Italians visiting Northern Ireland has increased significantly since the Giro d'Italia, a tourism chief said.

The country is in the top five destinations for Italians planning trips away.

Visitor numbers to Titanic Belfast and the Giant's Causeway were boosted by the locations featuring during the start of the famous cycling race in 2014.

The numbers visiting Northern Ireland rose by around 13% the year of the Giro and indications are that the improvement has been maintained, Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said.

He added: "The Giro was one of the best showcases that Northern Ireland had.

"There is a significant increase in the tourism offering here with Titanic Belfast and the investment in the Giant's Causeway.

"The sentiment has been very positive."

Normally, Spanish and Italian visitors are counted together. Numbers at the Titanic visitor centre increased by 9% and at the Giant's Causeway by 22%.

Mr Gibbons said the value of the television coverage of the Giro was worth £5.5 million in advertising.

The Giro began at the Titanic slipway where the vessel was made.

It swept from there up to the North Coast and passed near the Causeway, during a circuitous route back to Belfast along the Co Antrim coastline.

Some 71% of all Italian visitors to Northern Ireland came specifically for holidays, Tourism Ireland said.

A new Ryanair direct route from Milan to Belfast is due to launch in September.

Mr Gibbons added: "Spain and Italy have performed extremely well for tourism to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland in recent years and the future is undoubtedly bright.

"We believe that both are markets of considerable potential over the coming years."

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