Belfast Telegraph

Tourist spending up 16% as visitor numbers increase

By Clare weir

Tourists visiting Northern Ireland spent 16% more in the first six months of this year than the same period in 2012, new statistics have shown.

And tourist expenditure in the most recent 12 months has already exceeded the target of £676m set in the Programme for Government for December 2014.

Estimates for both 2012-13 and the first six months to June 2013 show that overall visitor numbers by residents and non-residents combined are increasing and there is also evidence that the rate of growth in external visitor numbers in the latest six months is higher than for the last 12 months as a whole.

However, the number of overnight visitors from the Republic plummeted by almost half in the first six months of this year and hotel occupancy rates were down 3%.

The estimated number of holiday visits by external visitors fell by 9% in the first half of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.

The figures were revealed in the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency's Tourism Statistics Bulletin for the 12-month period to June 2013 and the first six months of 2013.

The bulletin includes official statistics from a number of NISRA sources as well as estimates supplied by organisations in the Republic of Ireland to provide an overall assessment of tourism activity in Northern Ireland.

The estimated number of overnight trips to Northern Ireland increased by 3% last year compared to the same 12-month period in 2011-12.

Tourist expenditure during these overnight trips increased by 10%.

The number of visitor trips in Northern Ireland from January to June 2013 has shown a 10% increase to 1.95m on the same period in the previous year.

But a fall in the number of visits for holiday purposes was mainly due to a marked fall in the number of overnight visitors from the Republic of Ireland, down by 44%. Despite this fall, there was an increase in the number of holiday visits from GB residents of 10% and those from overseas markets of 3%.

Belfast Telegraph