Tourism could bring £1bn to NI
Tourism could contribute £1 billion to Northern Ireland's economy by 2020, a study suggests.
The amount generated could double as the country's reputation strengthens, research for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) added.
Holidaymaking is worth £529 million a year at present and supports 40,000 jobs.
Laura McCorry, NITB director of development, said: "These findings show how tourism is currently a central component of our economy.
"This industry brings employment to all regions, new facilities to our towns and cities, creates opportunities in rural areas and is a source of pride for the people of Northern Ireland. Over the next 10 years tourism offers unparalleled potential to generate growth and create jobs."
It warned of possible declines in spending due to taxation or inflation and said innovation and investment in the industry should be considered.
The Deloitte/Oxford Economics report said income created by the visitor economy stays within Northern Ireland and directly boosts the region.
It said tourism is sustainable during recessions and relatively insulated compared with the construction and manufacturing industries.
The paper added over the next 10 years the total economic contribution of the visitor economy is set to expand faster than retail, transport and manufacturing.
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: "This detailed and rigorous report from Deloitte is enormously encouraging for Northern Ireland tourism. It demonstrates that the industry has the power to deliver a huge amount of extra wealth and jobs to the country in the coming decade, with the total value of tourism to Northern Ireland looking set to rise from £529 million to £1 billion a year between now and 2020."