Tourism bosses in Belfast are hoping the Giro d’Italia can help the city race towards all-time high visitor numbers.
The coup of hosting the opening stages of the famous cycling showpiece next month will boost efforts to reach eight million visitors in 2014, Visit Belfast said.
The organisation which promotes Belfast as a leisure, business and cruise destination has announced plans for a series of marketing campaigns to further gear up interest in the city.
Visit Belfast’s new chairman David Gavaghan said: “Visit Belfast is optimistic about tourism prospects for the year ahead and we know that with a boost from the Giro d’Italia, the city is already off to a racing start.
“Against this backdrop, we are confident that through our collective efforts, Belfast can attract almost eight million visitors in 2014 - an important milestone and a target which all of us need to work hard to achieve.”
The organisation’s chief executive, Gerry Lennon, outlined the key plans for the year.
“Over the last decade, Belfast has established itself as the engine room of the Northern Ireland tourism sector, generating between a quarter and half of all visitor trips, up to half of all guest accommodation arrivals and between a third and half of all tourism spend,” he said.
“Visit Belfast’s hard work, determination and a commitment to achieve, is already delivering a successful, flourishing tourism industry that befits the millions of pounds of investment which has been made and the world class facilities which Belfast now has. A key determinant of our success comes from working with our key partners in the private and public sector.”