Latest tourism figures are ‘encouraging’ says Minister

Tourism figures for the first half of 2015 showed an increase of visitor numbers to Northern Ireland in comparison to 2014.

In the first six months (January to June) there was a rise of two per cent bringing total on the record levels for visitor numbers to 2.1 million.

Overall visitor numbers for the full year to June 2015 are up to 4.55 million an increase of nine per cent on the year to June 2014.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell said he was “encouraged” by the figures.

He added: “The tourism sector is becoming increasingly important to the Northern Ireland economy and it is important that we maintain the momentum built up over the last few years in showcasing Northern Ireland on the world stage as a great place to visit.

“Overall, the picture on tourism performance in the first half of 2015 is positive with a steady increase in our external visitors.

“I also welcome the increase in the number of people coming here on business and it is important that we continue to grow this sector, as business tourists traditionally spend more.

“The opening of new conference facilities, including the Waterfront Hall development in 2016, will provide a further boost in this lucrative market.”

Information on visitor numbers is based on trips made by overnight tourists from Great Britain (GB) and overseas, Republic of Ireland (ROI) as well as Northern Ireland residents taking overnight trips within NI (Domestic Tourism).

Exchange rates have impacted on visitor spend figures which are down by four per cent on the year to June 2015, to £725 million.

The figures also show a significant increase in business visitors and increases in visitors from many of our external markets including Great Britain, North America and Mainland Europe.

When visits by NI residents are excluded, the number of external visitors increased by two per cent to just under 1 million when compared to the same period in 2014.