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Titanic Belfast enjoys a 22% surge in visitor numbers


Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan and Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands

Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan and Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands

Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan and Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands

Titanic Belfast says it has had its busiest spell yet - with a 22% increase in visitors since April.

The tourist hotspot welcomed almost 440,000 through its doors between April and August. That's up from 360,000 in 2016.

"Growth has increased year-on-year in all key markets and to date 2017 has seen a 31% increase in visitors from England and 16% from the Republic of Ireland," it said.

It says that since opening in 2012 it has "welcomed more than four million people from over 145 countries".

Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands said that "the sharp drop in the value of the pound since last summer's Brexit vote has made Northern Ireland a more attractive destination".

"As well as a significant rise in visitors from the Republic of Ireland, we've also benefited from increases in visitors from the UK and local visitors who are holidaying more at home and are looking for a unique experience in a reassuring environment," he added.

"Northern Ireland also offers great value for overseas visitors, particularly from high spending long-haul markets including China and the US.

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"The increase in visitors is reflective of the strong growth in Republic of Ireland trips and spend in Northern Ireland generally."

Mr Husbands went on: "We've also seen a huge increase in cruise ships into Belfast, with a record-breaking number of ships docking in Northern Ireland this year."

Figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) show that there were 679,690 visitors to Titanic Belfast in 2016.

That was up more than 9% on 2015.

At the end of 2016 Titanic Belfast was named by the World Travel Awards as the best tourist attraction in the world.

In its latest set of accounts, Titanic Belfast Ltd posted a rise in pre-tax profits to £1.3m for the year ending March 2016. The company also saw its turnover increase to £11.9m.

That figure was up slightly from £11.7m a year earlier.

"Titanic Belfast has been transformative for tourism in Northern Ireland and its recent phenomenal performance is proof that the attraction is leading the way in attracting visitors from the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and around the globe," said Terence Brannigan, Tourism NI chairman.

"Titanic Belfast has been an important catalyst for investment in tourism across Belfast and beyond and has helped deliver the impressive levels of hotel growth that we are seeing today across the city.

"I commend the work of Tim Husbands and his team and congratulate them on setting such high standards for our industry."

However, the Giant's Causeway is still Northern Ireland's most popular tourist attraction.

There was an increase of 11% in the last year, bringing annual visitor numbers close to one million, according to the Northern Ireland Annual Tourism Statistics.

It also showed last year estimated overnight trips to Northern Ireland by external visitors stood at 2.6 million.

That's the highest number on record and a 12% increase on 2015.

In 2016 there were an estimated 4.6 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland.

That figure includes trips to Northern Ireland of external visitors and domestic trips taken by local residents.