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Record high for visitors to NI tourist attractions

By Claire McNeilly

Published 17/11/2016

Northern Ireland's festive appeal follows on from a record-breaking summer, with tourist attractions such as Titanic Belfast and the Marble Arch Caves welcoming their highest ever visitor numbers.

Official government statistics also revealed that hotel room occupancy hit record levels over the summer, with August reaching 88% - the highest level for any month ever.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the fact that the record hotel occupancy in August continued into September was "very encouraging for tourism businesses wishing to grow their off peak markets".

The province's bumper summer saw many popular attractions experiencing an increase in business, including Carrickfergus Museum, which saw an increase in European visitors throughout the season.

Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge welcomed up to 4,000 visitors on peak days, while Bushmills Distillery saw a significant increase in Asian tourists, according to the Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency.

Tourism NI boss John McGrillen said the outlook was positive for the rest of the year, with the Southern market likely to continue to contribute significantly to the local economy.

"Factors that may bode well include recent favourable currency movements, and this will potentially be supported by improvements in air connectivity over the winter, up 18% on winter 2015, with 10 new routes from Spain, Poland, Germany and Italy and a new route to Brussels," he added. "Industry sentiment for the rest of the year is good."

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