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Belfast awarded the most improved city title


Tourism and shopping in Belfast have improved in Belfast

Tourism and shopping in Belfast have improved in Belfast

Tourism and shopping in Belfast have improved in Belfast

Tourism and shopping in Belfast have improved in Belfast

Tourism and shopping in Belfast have improved in Belfast

Belfast is named the most improved city in the UK in a major report today with falling house prices credited with helping make it a better place to live.

The 2014 'good growth for cities index' from business advisers PwC and think tank Demos says Belfast has seen the biggest jump in its fortunes of any UK city.

It measured how the city had fared since the dark, early phase of the economic downturn between 2007 and 2009.

And the index also rated Belfast number six in the top 10 best UK cities to live and work - a jump in three places on its rating last year.

The index assesses how cities perform in factors like jobs, income, health, skills, work-life balance and travel to work time.

Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast - the body tasked with helping visitors to the city -welcomed the report.

He said: "Today's report clearly recognises Belfast's status as a desirable place in which to live, work and visit and it's really pleasing to see the city sit comfortably alongside Oxford, Edinburgh and Bristol in this prestigious list.

"Belfast is a really great place to be and tourism has been an integral part of the city's development and has become a key economic driver."

And it wasn't the only big accolade to be heaped on the city in 2014. "Earlier this year, the world's largest online travel forum, TripAdvisor also ranked Belfast in its Top 10 'best destination' list again for 2014 which is another significant endorsement of just how enticing and attractive a city Belfast has become." Tourism and shopping are two areas in which Belfast in 2014 is almost unrecognisable on seven years ago, thanks to additions like Titanic Belfast and Victoria Square.

The Cathedral Quarter has also expanded significantly since 2007 - including the inception of a new sub-quarter at St Anne's Square.

Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC chief economist in Northern Ireland, said: "Belfast performs well in the economic measures of jobs, and income, as well as quality of life measures like travel-to-work times, environment and work-life balance.

"The recent steep fall in property prices has rebalanced Belfast's price/earnings ratio, thus making the city a particularly attractive location for investment, work and living."

And he said Belfast's geography allowed it to continue to offer its residents a decent standard of living, even with economic growth.

Other UK cities, such as Hull and Bradford, were faring less well than Northern Ireland's capital, with both suffering from high increases in unemployment with no compensatory factors to help them.

Dr Birnie said: "Many of the larger English cities that boast exceptional economic success pay a steep price in terms of traffic congestion, pollution, income inequality, high house prices and challenging travel-to-work treks for workers living in outlying city catchments."

The Maiden City also features in a group of smaller UK cities with populations of less than 250,000.

In descending order, the best major cities were Reading and Bracknell, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Belfast, Preston, Southampton, Coventry and Bristol. Cambridge, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Liverpool all displayed major improvements.

Belfast Telegraph