Early recovery signs for Northern Ireland tourism as over 2.1million rooms and 3.7million beds sold in hotels in 2022
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Statistics released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) also show the number of beds sold in Northern Ireland 2022 rose by 43%.
In total, there were more than 2.1m rooms and 3.7m beds sold in hotels in 2022.
The figures, while still slightly down on 2019, show signs of a stronger than expected recovery.
In addition, the NISRA figures show there were more than 512,000 rooms and 941,000 beds sold in guesthouses, guest accommodation and B&Bs last year in Northern Ireland.
Compared to 2021, this represents a 67% increase in room sales and a 70% increase in bed sales.
Furthermore, self-catering occupancy also saw positive performance in 2022 with a 10% increase in annual occupancy and an 8 percentage point increase in peak occupancy, compared to 2021.
During 2022, 62% of annual weeks were sold to visitors from outside of Northern Ireland. This is compared to 69% in 2019, reflecting the downturn of out of state visitors.
During 2022 the percentage of annual weeks sold to Republic of Ireland visitors was 10%, a 2% increase, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The number of weeks sold to Northern Ireland residents increased from 31% in 2019 to 38% in 2022.
Excluding country parks, parks, forests and gardens, Titanic Belfast was Northern Ireland’s most visited attraction last year followed by the Derry Walls and the Giant’s Causeway.
Both Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway showed significant growth on 2021 figures with an increase of 173% and 298% respectively. However, these have not yet recovered to pre- pandemic 2019 levels, with cost of living and inflation also playing a significant role in lifestyle
Commenting on the figures, John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism Northern Ireland, said: “The latest NISRA tourism statistics represent a comprehensive insight into the recovery of our industry across a number of sectors.
“Northern Ireland’s attraction sector was severely impacted by the pandemic, and the significant reduction in overseas visitors, but signs of recovery are evident in the survey findings.
“I am also encouraged by the fact that the hotel sector performed better than anticipated in 2022. Despite the impact of the Omicron variant in the early months of the year, hotel occupancy rates got close to pre-pandemic levels, while sales didn’t quite meet those achieved in 2019.
“Our guesthouses, guest accommodation and B&Bs had a very positive 2022, with figures indicating that this sector is further along in its recovery than the hotel sector. 2022 was also a strong year for the self-catering sector, with annual and peak occupancy exceeding pre-pandemic levels in 2019, and increases evident for the proportion of weeks sold to island of Ireland residents”.