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Tourism ‘disappeared’ because of Troubles

Giants Causeway Co Antrim. Picture Steven McAuley/Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia

Giants Causeway Co Antrim. Picture Steven McAuley/Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia

Tourists “virtually disappeared” from Northern Ireland between 1972 and 1977, according to a Government report on how to sell the Province to visitors at a time of strife.

A 1984 Northern Ireland Tourist Board strategy document for tourism optimistically said that the early eighties were showing encouraging signs of tourism growth in Northern Ireland.

The file, released at the Public Record Office in Belfast, said: “The Sixties hey-day of tourism in the Province centred largely on resort-based seaside and touring holidays is unlikely ever to return on the same scale.

“Social and leisure habits have changed dramatically since then and ‘sunshine’ alternatives are now within easy reach.”

It noted: “The prospects for further continuing growth in Northern Ireland tourism in 1968 were substantial. Instead the industry became one of those most adversely affected by the Troubles.”

A draft of the report said that there had been 1.1 million visitors to Northern Ireland in 1968.

That figure had collapsed to between 435,000 and 530,000 visitors during the years 1972 to 1977.

However, it said that in this period many of the visits were for family or business reasons, meaning that “the pure holiday-maker sector virtually disappeared”.

It added of attempts to market Northern Ireland abroad: “The continuing predominance of ‘bad’ news has created a very difficult image for the Province to overcome.”

However, the document added that it was not purely the Troubles which accounted for the decline: across the UK there had been a decline in the popularity of once-bustling resorts as cheaper travel saw people going to warmer climes.

 

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