Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland tourism campaign generates £5 for every £1 spent

One of our top tourist attractions, the £97m complex, hosts a spectacular light show

BY CLARE WEIR

A high-profile tourism campaign last year generated almost £5 for every £1 spent and attracted a million visitors to Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) commissioned an independent survey on the £11.2m Our Time, Our Place initiative, which attracted £42.2m in tourism spend — £31m profit.

NITB said for every £1 spent, there was a return of £4.78.

However the statistics — which polled people purely on their response to the campaign — did not cover November or December 2012.

The latter month saw serious violence erupt on the streets of Belfast over restrictions on flying the Union flag at City Hall.

The figures also contrast with others from the Department of Enterprise and Investment (DETI) released last November which showed a 12% drop in overseas visitors for the first nine months of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.

The drop was most marked in visitors from Britain and Europe.

However, a spokesman for the NITB said that forthcoming comprehensive figures from DETI for 2012 were expected to be “much more positive”.

The ni2012 Our Time, Our Place was framed around a number of key events including the opening of the landmark £97m Titanic Belfast complex, the £18m Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and the Metropolitan Arts Centre (Mac) in Belfast.

The 50th anniversary of Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the Irish Open golf tournament and the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race were also included in the initiative.

The Irish Open, held at Royal Portrush, attracted more than 130,000 spectators and became the only European Tour event in its history to sell out.

NITB said that 1,054,972 visitors attended an event or visited Northern Ireland because of ni2012, including 350,000 from outside the British Isles.

It had aimed to attract 150,000 extra visitors, generate £24m in revenue and create 612 jobs in 2012 alone.

During 2012 a dedicated website attracted more than 3.4m visitors, while the number of people subscribing to NITB’s social media channels almost doubled, reaching 63,000 by the end of the year.

NITB chief executive Alan Clarke said that ni2012 had shown the public that Northern Ireland was “world class”.

“We can do MTV, we can do major golf tournaments, we can open world-class attractions and we can run spectacular events,” he said.

“And in delivering this we can all work together with pride, so it is right that we take a moment to celebrate the success.”

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said that promotions for ni2012 reached more than 100 milion people during the course of 2012.

“We are now building upon that success in 2013, highlighting the Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture celebrations, which provide fresh and compelling reasons for overseas visitors to come here,” he said.

“Northern Ireland’s hosting of the recent, hugely successful G8 summit also presented a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to showcase Co Fermanagh and Northern Ireland — not only to world leaders but to a global audience through the international media.”

Earlier this month the Northern Ireland Hotel Industry Survey published by ASM chartered accountants showed that 270,000 bedrooms were occupied in hotels here in 2012, a 15% increase over 2011.

That, according to ASM, has been helped by the Our Time, Our Place marketing campaign.

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