Business

Visit Belfast generates £122m for the city's growing tourism economy

Celebrating the success of Visit Belfast at the AGM held at the Kingspan Stadium are chair Howard Hastings and chief executive Gerry Lennon. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Gareth McKeown

MARKETING organisation Visit Belfast helped contribute a massive £122 million to the city's growing tourism economy last year it has been revealed.

Visit Belfast, a public/private partnership backed by Belfast City Council and supported by Tourism Northern Ireland and over 500 industry partners, has announced the positive figures at its annual general meeting.

The organisation has stated that its sales, marketing and visitor servicing activity have helped to generate £32 to the city economy for every £1 invested.

In addition Visit Belfast has reported that through its efforts to market the city nationally and internationally the body has helped deliver over 500,000 hotel bed nights for the city in 2016, around one fifth of which were linked to the 77 conference wins secured.

The organisation handled 755,000 tourist enquiries at its three tourist information centres, while a new high for visitor interest during the period was also evident by a record two million visits made to visitbelfast.com, as well as over 1.4 million engagements across its social media platforms.

Through its marketing and sales drive it has also pushed the number of cruise ship arrivals to a record high, helping deliver 93 ships and 155,000 visitors last year.

Chairman of Visit Belfast, Howard Hastings congratulated all those involved in tourism for the collective efforts made in the city, but warned against complacency.

"We must be clear that this is only a start and competition for tourists is tough. As Belfast embarks on the most significant private sector expansion of hotel capacity in the city's history, the challenge for ‘Team Belfast' will be to generate the extra demand required to meet fill this additional capacity.”

“Visit Belfast's mission is clear. We want to bring the world to Belfast. This can be achieved through a targeted and proactive approach which requires a real team effort from all the city's stakeholders across private and public sectors.While the tourism industry will continue to make opportunities and meet challenges head on, government must look again at what it can now do to ensure that tourism and the benefits it brings can be realised and maximised," he added.

The AGM acknowledged the collective efforts of ‘Team Belfast' in driving growth and underlined its role in delivering the vision of Belfast City Council's Belfast Agenda, which aims to double the value of out-of-state tourism by 2021.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive at Visit Belfast, added:

“Belfast's tourism economy is strong thanks to the industry's commitment and growing confidence to invest in their own products and services – both existing and new.

“As we look to deliver new tourism milestones for Belfast and ensure the city maximises its position in all markets through stimulated growth, our commitment to partnerships and team ethos will help to ensure that Visit Belfast achieves its challenging aspirations and ambitions.”

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