Vis­i­tors from Repub­lic spend­ing 75% more dur­ing trips to NI thanks to fall in value of pound

Belfast Telegraph - - BUSINESS - BY JOHN MULGREW

SPEND­ING by vis­i­tors to North­ern Ire­land from the Repub­lic soared by 75% to al­most £40m in the last six months as the value of the pound plum­meted fol­low­ing the UK’s vote for Brexit.

New fig­ures from the Repub­lic’s Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fice show that there was a 23% boost in the num­ber of trips to North­ern Ire­land in the first half of the year.

There were 221,000 trips in the pe­riod between Jan­uary and June, up from 179,000 dur­ing the same pe­riod a year ear­lier.

And there were 476,000 nights spent here by vis­i­tors from the Repub­lic, up 10%, from 434,000.

Cross-border vis­i­tors spent on av­er­age £31 more per night com­pared to the first six months of 2016 “due in part to the fact that more vis­i­tors stayed in ho­tel and guest ac­com­mo­da­tion”, ac­cord­ing to Tourism NI.

And while hol­i­day­mak­ers spent an ad­di­tional 33% this year so far, ris­ing to £78m, it was busi­ness vis­i­tors who made up the largest in­crease.

There was a 60% jump in spend­ing by those here on work — ris­ing to £21m.

“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,” said Naomi Waite, Tourism NI di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing.

“This pos­i­tive 2017 per­for­mance also fol­lows re­cent Tourism NI cam­paigns in the Repub-

❝ Favourable ex­change rates have en­ticed more vis­i­tors and en­cour­aged them to spend more

lic, 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 said that find­ings from a re­port pub­lished in June “sug­gests a pos­i­tive out­look for the re­main­der of the year, with ho­tels and at­trac­tions most op­ti­mistic and Ti­tanic Belfast re­port­ing

a 16% in­crease in Repub­lic of Ire­land vis­i­tors year to date”. Ti­tanic Belfast said it had en­joyed its busiest spell yet, with a 22% in­crease in vis­i­tors since April.

The tourist mag­net wel­comed al­most 440,000 peo­ple through its doors between April and Au­gust.

That’s up from 360,000 in 2016.

How­ever, the Giant’s Cause-

way is still the most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion.

There was an in­crease of 11% vis­i­tors last year, bring­ing an­nual num­bers close to one mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the North­ern Ire­land An­nual Tourism Sta­tis­tics.

Last month Howard Hast­ings, who heads Hast­ings Ho­tels, said tourism fund­ing in North­ern Ire­land “re­quires an ur­gent re­think”.

The Visit Belfast chair­man said “with­out ac­tion” our tourism in­dus­try risks see­ing slow­ing lev­els of growth. He com­mented: “It is clearly time for Govern­ment to step up to the plate and to make a step change in its ap­proach to in­vest­ment in the mar­ket­ing of North­ern Ire­land, for ex­am­ple in its al­lo­ca­tion of funds to Tourism NI, to Tourism Ire­land and other agen­cies.”

Tourists have been flock­ing to world fa­mous sites in­clud­ing the Giant’s Cause­way, Ti­tanic Belfast and (cir­cled) the Dark Hedges

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