£61m boost to economy as 4,400 holidaymakers pay us a visit every day
Soaring visitor numbers injected an extra £60m spending money into the Northern Ireland economy last year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Provisional statistics show the total number of visitors was up by 60,000 people to 1,478,000 (or 4,400 people every day).
And their collective expenditure was £61m more than the previous year — up from £307m to £378m, according to an Assembly written answer.
Executive Minister Arlene Foster said the trend augurs well for the huge tourism ‘Our Time/ Our Place’ push this year.
“The increasing spend by overseas tourists during 2011 is hugely encouraging,” the Tourism Minister said.
“These figures are proof that overseas visitors want to come to see all that Northern Ireland has to offer, and when they do come they spend money that helps to boost the local economy.
“The figures also augur well for 2012 and beyond. Titanic Belfast has already provided us with the opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland to the world and the Irish Open will ensure the spotlight continues to shine on Northern Ireland for all the right reasons.”
Executive Ministers made tourism potential a central plank of their four-year programme for government, with targets including an increase of total visitor numbers to 4.2 million and total tourist revenue to £676m by December 2014.
“The challenge is to meet these targets as we seek to ensure that Northern Ireland continues as a must-see destination for people from all over the world,” Ms Foster added.
Meanwhile, it also emerged that the cross-border Tourism Ireland has developed an initiative targetted on the mainland UK market.
In a separate response, Ms Foster also reiterated the importance of the UK tourist market “cannot be underestimated”.
Seven out of ten visitors to the province come from Great Britain “making it our most important market”.
“The revenue generated by visitors from Great Britain in 2011 increased by 17%,” she added.
“With new product coming on line, such as the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre, the Irish Open and Londonderry being promoted as the UK City of Culture 2013, there will be more opportunities for visitors from Great Britain to visit Northern Ireland.
“In recognition of this, Tourism Ireland, which has responsibility for marketing Northern Ireland in Great Britain and overseas, has developed a dedicated Great Britain Marketing Strategy for Northern Ireland.
“It also received additional investment of £4.7m specifically for marketing ni2012, the majority of which will be spent in the Great Britain market.”