Visitors to Northern Ireland are now spending £2.7m a day

The NISRA statistics for the first nine months of 2017 show the spend by visitors to the north increased by 16 per cent to £747m

VISITORS to Northern Ireland are now spending £2.7 million a day according to the latest government figures.

The NISRA statistics for the first nine months of 2017 show the spend by visitors to the north increased by 16 per cent to £747m.

Factors including increased marketing activity by Tourism NI in the Republic, favourable exchange rates and high profile events like the Irish Open helped contribute to a record breaking two million holiday trips being taken during January to September, with a notable increase in visits across the summer.

The figures show a 4 per cent growth in overseas visitors and a 12 per cent growth in revenue. Northern Ireland welcomed almost 1.7 million overseas visitors between January and September, an additional 70,000 more than the same period in 2016. Holiday visitors also grew by 6 per cent, and revenue from overseas visitors to Northern Ireland grew by 12 per cent (almost £458m).

Tourism NI chief executive, John McGrillen said the figures are encouraging.

“Northern Ireland enjoyed overall growth from Great Britain, Europe and North America in the first nine months last year. Closer to home, Northern Ireland residents took more staycations and visitors from the Republic of Ireland continued to be motivated by value for money and spent £18 million more than the same period last year, an increase of 45 per cent."

“Our research shows that perceptions of Northern Ireland as a holiday destination have improved demonstrably in the Republic but, given that Northern Ireland still has a lower share of the overall holiday market, continued marketing investment will be vital if we are to maintain and build on recent performance," he added.

The encouraging tourism figures come as new plans to boost American tourist numbers on the island have been Tourism Ireland.

The strategy aims to build on recent success and sets out ambitious targets which will see American visitor numbers grow by 23 per cent by 2021. It has been developed in close co-operation with Tourism NI and Fáilte Ireland, as well a wide range of industry partners, at home and in the United States. The strategy has identified the market segments and opportunities which will drive strong growth from the US to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland over the coming four years.

The US market is the second largest market for tourism on the island of Ireland and between 2012 and 2016 there was a 60 per cent increase in American holidaymakers, which led to a 70 per cent rise in revenue. This was driven by positive macro-economic conditions, direct flights, as well as strong and effective sales and marketing.

CEO of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons said he is confident they can deliver on the targets set out in the new strategy.

“We are aware that continuing to deliver the level of growth seen in recent years will be challenging, as the competitive environment is becoming increasingly crowded. But, we also know that this is a market with a strong affinity with Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland and we believe that it can yield good growth in the years ahead. However, in order to unlock that growth, we will have to do some things differently; we need to adapt and respond to new opportunities."


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