Continental Christmas market generated £58m for city, say pollsters
The Christmas continental market at Belfast City Hall generated £58m for the economy, according to new figures.
But the council admitted it calculated the numbers based on all of the 1.1m people it counted entering the grounds, regardless of whether or not they shopped.
A spokesman for Belfast City Council said that figures were ascertained from a survey of visitors to the market, conducted by pollsters Millward Brown Ulster.
It is understood that the sample size was 400 people, with the figures then calculated based on the number of "visitors to the event" over five weeks, counted at 1.1m by the use of clickers on the entrance gates.
However, the City Hall is often used as a shortcut or through route, with the spokesman admitting that "everyone who entered the market was counted, regardless of whether they shopped or not".
The figures suggest that 10% of the visitors were from outside Northern Ireland, bringing with them an additional spend of almost £12m, while £32.24m was apparently spent by people who visited primarily to attend the market.
Visitors are said to have spent almost £7m on accommodation, £15m on eating out, £20m on shopping elsewhere in the city, £4m on entertainment and more than £5m on transport during their stay.
The total estimated expenditure by those attending the event was £51.9m, and those who would not have otherwise visited Belfast accounted for £32.2m.
Paul McMahon, president of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said that while he was pleased with the success of the event, improvements could be made.
"It is a welcome addition to Belfast's Christmas offering and we know that it attracts people to the city who spend both time and money which supports the market and our indigenous businesses," he said.
"The challenge is to look for ways to improve the market."