Belfast Telegraph

Game Of Thrones helped N Ireland head for busiest tourist year, says Tourism NI

Hit fantasy drama Game Of Thrones has helped place Northern Ireland on course for its busiest tourist year ever.

Tourist spend grew to more than £400 million in the first six months of the year, new statistics show.

This is 16% greater than during the same period in 2016, according to Tourism NI.

The number of tourists visiting the region has also seen a boost.

Figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show that tourism generated 7.6 million nights, an increase of 18%, from January to June.

Tourism NI believes attractions like Game Of Thrones, Seamus Heaney, the Titanic and the Causeway helped generate more visitors from the Republic of Ireland, other parts of Europe and North America.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the region is on course for its busiest year ever and to reach an annual revenue of £1 billion by the end of the decade.

He added: "Some £2.3 million was spent by those taking overnight trips in Northern Ireland every day during the first six months of 2017.

"In addition to the domestic and Republic of Ireland markets, growth is apparent across Europe, North America and further afield, with a 15% increase in visitors from overseas availing of the increased air capacity into Northern Ireland driving both business and holiday trips."

Mr McGrillen said the positive growth was supported by "an intensive burst of partnership marketing initiatives in the Republic of Ireland highlighting both well-established and new tourism offerings from Titanic and the Causeway to Seamus Heaney HomePlace and the Game Of Thrones tapestry (in the Ulster Museum), alongside high-impact campaigns in key markets across the globe by Tourism Ireland."

NISRA's January to August 2017 occupancy and sales figures for hotels show continued growth with summer 2017 on a par with the strong performance in 2016, Mr McGrillen claimed.

"Tourism NI's industry barometer indicates positive sentiment for the remainder of the year," he added.

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