Belfast Telegraph

Record number of visitors from Republic to Northern Ireland in 2018

A record number of people from the Irish Republic visited Northern Ireland for overnight stays.
A record number of people from the Irish Republic visited Northern Ireland for overnight stays.

There was a record breaking number of visitors from the Irish Republic to Northern Ireland in 2018.

An estimated 591,000 overnight trips were taken by residents from the Republic of Ireland, an increase of nearly a quarter (23%)

Tourism expenditure from visitors from the Republic rose by 20% to over £108m, while holiday trips increased by 7%.

The figures come from the Statistics & Research Agency's 2018 Annual Tourism Statistics.

Around 2.8m people visited Northern Ireland from outside the region for an overnight stay in 2018.

It is estimated that those visitors spent £669m as part of their trip.

There were an estimated 1.425m visitors from Britain, while 794k of visitors for an overnight stay came from outside the UK and Ireland.

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Over the year there were an estimated 5m overnight trips in Northern Ireland, with spending estimated at £968m.

This figure includes people from Northern Ireland making overnight stays in the region.

Trips increased by a total of 3% from 2017, while revenue increased by 5%. 

The Giant's Causeway
The Giant's Causeway

The main reason cited for overnight trips to Northern were holiday/pleasure/leisure (2.4) , followed by visiting friends/relatives (2m) and business (0.5m).

Hotel room occupancy was estimated to be 70% in 2018, with an estimated 2.2m hotel rooms nights sold.

The top three tourist attractions for the year were the Giant's Causeway, Titanic Belfast and the Ulster Museum.

Cruise ship docking increased to 128 from 112 the previous year in 2018 and has risen from just 62 in 2013.

The report found that there was an "upward trend in overall tourism activity in Northern Ireland between 2013 and 2018".

Trips and spend are the highest estimates on record, but there has been no statistically significant change between 2017 and 2018.

Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen said that the figures showed growth driven by visitors from the Britain and Irish Republic.

"The partnership marketing approach with visitor attractions and accommodation providers that Tourism NI has taken in the Republic of Ireland market, implemented as part of a recent taskforce review, has contributed to those visitors spending significantly more," he said.

"At the same time we are attracting increasing numbers of visitors from Great Britain and overseas, creating more opportunities for our local industry to grow and invest in the tourism sector”.

Mr McGrillen said that Tourism NI's target was to double revenue to £2bn a year by 2030.

"This will require us to have a laser like focus on key markets and market segments. It will also require further investment in new attractions and experiences and in developing the skills which the industry needs to succeed in the future,” he said.

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