Titanic reopening... but it'll be a long way back for the tourism attraction

Economy minister Dodds visits Titanic Belfast ahead of its reopening on August 1.
Economy minister Dodds visits Titanic Belfast ahead of its reopening on August 1.

THE north's biggest indoor tourism attraction will reopen on Saturday week (August 1) having implemented a range of new safety measures and enhancements.

But it could be months, possibly years, before Titanic Belfast is anywhere near back to delivering the sort of economic statistics which has earned it international plaudits.

In February an independent economic impact report conducted by Deloitte for its owners Titanic Foundation Limited revealed that in the last seven years Titanic Belfast welcomed six million visitors from 145 countries and generated £319 million additional expenditure in the local economy.

And before the facility shut on March 18 as the pandemic took hold, it was still generating around £1 million a week in spend.

But with no major corporate events planned for the rest of this year, visitor numbers being restricted, and international or cruise tourists virtually non-existent, income will be a mere fraction of what it has been used to.

However, chief executive Judith Owens insists ambition is as big as ever - and is appealing to the home market to lend its support.

She said: “Since opening in 2012 we've not only became a key economic driver for Northern Ireland, but the symbol of it and its spirit.

“Now more than ever we need to show the spirit and ambition that built Titanic and be the catalyst for recovery for our city and our industry.

“But to do this, we need local support, and we’ve enhanced our offering for the home market.

“Innovating and pushing boundaries are in our DNA, and recognising that the majority of our near-future visitors are going to be local, we are offering that audience something special so they can get closer, go deeper and be surprised by what they didn’t know.

“Highlights include our one-way, self-guided themed tour throughout the galleries and SS Nomadic, Titanic Foundation’s 'Out of Stores' exhibition and our redeveloped award-winning Discovery Tour, which is now outdoor only.

“There are also many developments in the area capitalising on the outdoor space including picnic areas and Titanic Foundation’s new Maritime Mile Treasure Trail, which will be launched in August.”

Over the past four months the team at the attraction has been introducing measures that are not only safe, welcoming and in line with government guidance, but that do justice to the world-famous Titanic story.

The enhancements were previewed by economy minister Diane Dodds and Tourism NI’s director of product development Rosemarie McHugh.

Mrs Dodds said: “The reopening of iconic visitor attractions such as Titanic Belfast is vital to persuading potential visitors that there are things to do and see when they come here.

“The 'We're Good to Go' industry standard is a visible reassurance for customers that businesses are adhering to government and public health guidance and I encourage all those enjoying a staycation this year to get out and enjoy all the sights, scenes and tastes Northern Ireland has to offer.”