Belfast Telegraph

Home where heart is for staycationers as tourism to rake in £462m by 2017

By Joanne Sweeney

Northern Ireland is set to benefit from a 'staycationer' spending boom over the next three years.

But despite a 24% increase predicted for domestic tourist spending between 2013 and 2017, the total amount spent is still expected to lag far behind the rest of the UK.

Domestic tourists will contribute £462m to Northern Ireland's economy by 2017 as we sample the delights of our own country, according to a new survey.

But this represents only a tiny 0.4% of the UK's total domestic tourism spending. Currently, domestic tourism is worth £374m to our economy.

Overall, the big winners here will be the hospitality and leisure sectors as staycationers return to eating out more and taking more family excursions.

Scotland – which is predicted in the Barclays-commissioned research to benefit from a massive 40% increase in overseas tourist spending – will also have its staycationer spend increased by 12% to £13.1bn.

Wales will enjoy a 6% increase for its staycationers, bringing the spend to £6.6bn, and north east England will see a 3% increase, realising a predicted £3.3bn spend.

However, it's not bad news for Northern Ireland's tourism, leisure and hospitality product.

"Although share of total expenditure will remain steady, spending within Northern Ireland is actually increasing at one of the fastest rates across the UK, potentially as a result of improvements in the region's marketing to tourists and recently unveiled attractions," the report stated.

Among the attractions which draw tourists to Northern Ireland but are also popular with day-trippers are the likes of Titanic Belfast, the Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede ropebridge. The report added: "Northern Ireland ranks last in share of both overseas and domestic expenditure among the regions. This may be because tourists are likely to day-trip within mainland UK."

Barclays head of banking in Northern Ireland Adrian Doran said that as economic growth improves, our hospitality and leisure sectors would feel the benefit.

He said: "Northern Ireland's hospitality and leisure sector will benefit most from the trend towards 'staycations' with domestic tourist spend (for both) growing to £270m by 2017, an increase of 25% from £216m in 2013.

"The economy is improving and confidence is certainly growing, and while this will lead to a gradual rise in the number of consumers looking to holiday abroad again, it is unlikely to precipitate a return to the holidaying habits we were seeing prior to the downturn."

Restaurants and pubs will see an increase of 25% in spend to £165m by 2017 as more people dine out.

Hotels and B&Bs will see domestic tourist spend rise by 21% to £49m, and leisure attractions a 29% increase to £56m by 2017, it's predicted.

Mr Doran added: "It is key that operators understand their customer base and crucially how to communicate with them via the channels their clients prefer to use, be it through social media, print advertising, or television and radio."

Belfast Telegraph


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