Belfast Titanic centre to cost £90m
The Titanic Signature building in Belfast needs to attract at least 300,000 visitors a year to secure its long-term future, the audit office has said.
The centre is expected to cost around £90 million and is the most expensive tourism project ever built in Northern Ireland.
A decision on £18.4 million of European funding is still awaited.
The audit office report said: "Although Titanic Quarter Limited - the building developers - would underwrite losses of up to £5 million in the first seven years, if predicted visitor numbers do not materialise, the long-term future of the building would be doubtful."
It added: "Utilising £60 million of public funds, it will be more expensive and will deliver less financial benefits than a proposed alternative attraction at the Odyssey."
The building needs 290,000 visitors a year to break even. Titanic Quarter Limited has exclusive development rights and without competition it appointed an associated company, Harcourt Construction (NI) Limited, to construct the building.
The report added: "Compared to other world-class attractions, the Titanic Signature building will be one of the most expensive relative to the number of visitors it expects to attract."
Because of the economic downturn, large parts of the Titanic Quarter are under-developed.
The report said: "When completed, the Signature building and the other Titanic heritage assets will be surrounded by many acres of undeveloped brownfield land, which may detract from its appeal to tourists and will limit its overall impact."
The building is due to be completed in March next year, in time for the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic in April 2012.