Titanic Belfast profits jump 45% as centre sees boost in visitor numbers
Top tourist attraction Titanic Belfast has seen its profits soar by almost 45% to £2m in the last 12 months, new figures show.
The tourism venue also saw turnover rising from £11.7m to £13.6m in the year to March 31, 2017.
The latest accounts for Titanic Belfast Ltd show pre-tax profits increased from £1.38m to £2m during the same period.
During the year, the company also moved catering at its events and conferencing in-house.
Titanic Belfast welcomed almost 440,000 through its doors between April and August - up from 360,000 over the same period in 2016.
According to Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, the centre witnessed a surge in visitors from countries such as China.
He paid tribute to the work of former Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands, who is moving on from the top role after six years in charge, with Judith Owens taking over.
In its strategic report, Titanic Belfast said that "the company has enjoyed a successful fifth year as a top visitor attraction in Northern Ireland".
It said that visitor numbers were up 12% over the last year.
"Titanic Belfast has also established itself as a leading venue for conferences and banqueting, exhibitions and wedding functions," the report said. "Total visitors attending the galleries and special events at the venue was 738,727 in the year.
"There continues to be strong international interest in the story of RMS Titanic's maiden voyage being told at the birthplace of the great liner, with 82% of visitors coming from out of state (outside Northern Ireland)." During the year, 256 people worked at the centre, as it "assumed full responsibility of the catering services within the venue which had previously been sub-contracted out".
It said some of the highlights over the last few years include hosting the Gran Fondo bike race, the BBC Proms, Belsonic music festival and the Euro 2016 fanzone.
Titanic Belfast's strategic report said: "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 that since opening in 2012, it has "welcomed more than four million people from over 145 countries".
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.
Former chief executive Tim Husbands is moving on from the role to take on the running of a top 17th century Irish estate and tourist attraction.
Mr Husbands has been named chief executive of Westport House in Co Mayo.
He has headed up Titanic Belfast since 2011, and was previously in charge of the Waterfront and Ulster Hall in the city.
And the former deputy chief executive of Titanic Belfast is to step into the top job this week. Judith Owens, who has worked at the attraction since it opened in 2012, has succeeded Mr Husbands.