Belfast Telegraph

Increase in overseas tourist visits

More people are visiting Northern Ireland from overseas and spending more when they are there, new figures have indicated.

Around 1.2 million foreign tourists spent at least one night in the region between January and September last year - a 6% increase on the same period in 2010.

The holidaymakers spent an estimated £291 million in that time - up 20% on the previous year.

Welcoming the increasing number of visitors, tourism minister Arlene Foster also noted the importance of "staycations" spent by Northern Ireland residents elsewhere in the region. Between January and September local people took 1.5 million overnight trips within Northern Ireland - with an associated spend of £121 million.

In the same period residents took 4.7 million leisure day trips within the region, of which 1.8 million were tourism-related visits.

Overall an estimated 1,522,000 hotel, guest house and bed & breakfast rooms were sold in the period - an increase of 3% on 2010.

"It is encouraging to be able to report a 6% increase in overseas visitors to Northern Ireland, coupled with an increase in revenue of 20% for the first nine months of 2011," said Mrs Foster.

"Visitor numbers and revenue generated from trips by GB residents to Northern Ireland have also increased.

"This promising performance is very timely given the recent launch of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's NI2012 campaign, 'Your Time, Our Place' and momentum will increase as we move further into 2012."

She added: "The domestic market and the increasing popularity of the 'staycation' holiday is crucial to the long-term sustainable growth of tourism in Northern Ireland."

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