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Spike in visitors to Northern Ireland from Republic as spend hits £40 million

New figures have shown a spike in the number of visitors from the Republic of Ireland choosing to head north.

In the first six months of this year there was a 23% increase compared with the previous six-month period, with residents from the Republic spending almost £40m in the province - an increase of £7m. 

The figures come from the Central Statistics Office, the Republic's governmental statistics agency.

There was an upturn in the number of visitors across the board, but the largest increase came from holidays being taken in Northern Ireland, with around 19,000 more trips in the six months of 2017 than in the previous period.

Speaking about the upturn, Tourism NI director of marketing Naomi Waite pointed to a favourable exchange rate for visitors from the Republic choosing Northern Ireland as a destination.

"Value for money is a key motivator for Republic of Ireland residents and the favourable exchange rates have helped to entice more visitors from this key market and encouraged them to spend more, with the euro worth 11% more during January to June 2017 compared to the same period in 2016," she said.

"This positive 2017 performance also follows recent Tourism NI campaigns in the Republic which had unprecedented industry participation and have led to even greater interest in and knowledge of Northern Ireland as a short break destination."

Tourism NI (the trading name for state body the Northern Ireland Tourist Board) works to promote Northern Ireland as a destination. 

In June, the body's Tourism Industry Barometer showed a positive outlook for the rest of the year - with Titanic Belfast reporting a 16% increase in visitors from the Republic.

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