Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland welcomes more than 407,000 visitors in first quarter of 2017, figures reveal

By Claire Williamson

Northern Ireland welcomed more than 407,000 overseas visitors in the first quarter of 2017, new figures revealed.

The statistics show an eight percent rise on the same period in 2016 and were welcomed by Tourism Ireland.

Holiday visitors grew by 23% and revenue from overseas visitors increased by seven percent with significant increases recorded from GB (+23%), North America (+31%) and Mainland Europe (+32%).

They delivered more than £98m for the local economy.

Tourism Ireland says iconic experiences such as Titanic Belfast, the Giant's Causeway and Game of Thrones filming locations are key to attracting visitors.

CEO of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons said: “Overseas tourism delivers about £543 million per year for the Northern Ireland economy, helping to sustain valuable employment in local communities. And, I am pleased to report that sentiment in general for 2017 from our tourism partners overseas (including tour operators and carriers), as well as our industry partners here at home (including hoteliers and visitor attractions), is largely optimistic.

“Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that growth continues and we are rolling out an extensive programme of promotions throughout 2017, to highlight Northern Ireland around the world.

"Our Game of Thrones campaign is under way in 12 different markets right now, leveraging the huge popularity of the TV series to showcase Northern Ireland.

"We are also highlighting iconic experiences like Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and our unique National Trust properties; and we continue to promote Northern Ireland as a top golf destination, in particular the fact that the 148th Open is set to take place at Royal Portrush in 2019. Tourism Ireland has also been leveraging the tourism benefits of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, with the finals taking place in Belfast next week.”

Since Tourism Ireland came into operation in 2002, some 25.3 million overseas visitors have come to Northern Ireland, generating £5.5 billion for the economy.

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