Ulster holidaymakers stay close to home
Northern Ireland holidaymakers choosing to take breaks closer to home are boosting the tourist trade, officials have revealed.
Tourism minister Arlene Foster announced that domestic tourism figures increased significantly in 2009 and have grown again this year.
The trend generated a £30 million boost for the sector in January and February.
Ms Foster said: "The current economic climate has clearly led to an increase in the 'staycation' trend, as holidaymakers decide to stay in Northern Ireland rather than travel abroad. This not only benefits accommodation providers and tourist hotspots but it also positively impacts the wider hospitality industry."
Figures released by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) show that during 2009, the total number of trips taken by Northern Ireland residents at home grew by more than a third (34%) compared with the previous year, driven by an increase in short breaks (holiday trips lasting 1-3 nights).
This trend has continued into 2010, as figures show the number of trips taken by Northern Ireland residents have increased by 44% when compared with January-February 2009.
As a result, the total spend for January and February has doubled, generating £30 million for the local economy.
The minister said: "It's a trend that we have seen developing over the course of the last 12 months and one which we intend to nurture, with the help of the tourism industry. The figures also show an average increase in spend of £13 per trip. This is great news as it has helped to boost the revenue generated from short breaks to £155 million, equating to an additional £53 million being spent in the local economy."
NITB is preparing to launch its summer marketing campaign, which will run throughout June, July and August.
The campaign is designed to encourage residents to look no further than their own doorstep when it comes to taking a short break or holiday.