04/12/2013

Plans To Increase NI Tourism To 2m A Year

Tourism Ireland is aiming to see visits to Northern Ireland reach 2m per year by 2016, in what would amount to a 36% increase over a three year period.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced the details today, as her department begins plans to market the country as a tourist destination throughout 2014.

Speaking at the launch of Tourism Ireland's report, Minister Foster said: "Given the importance of tourism to the Northern Ireland economy I am setting challenging targets for Tourism Ireland for the coming three years. 2013 was a successful year for us and we look forward to continuing that momentum in 2014 with events such as the Giro d’Italia and the Clipper Yacht race."

During 2013, visitor numbers are forecast to have grown by 7%, with holiday visitors from the Great Britain market growing by an estimated 10% by year end.

The Minister continued: "Capturing the attention of prospective holidaymakers is essential to ensure Northern Ireland stands out from other destinations. In order to attract new and repeat visitors, Tourism Ireland will be seeking opportunities to capitalise on the huge worldwide popularity of HBO’s Game of Thrones television series and continuing to promote iconic attractions like Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway."

"Outbound travel from many countries around the world is growing rapidly, however we are also competing with other destinations to attract visitors," she said.

"I would therefore urge the Northern Ireland Tourism Industry to work with Tourism Ireland and take up the opportunities to sell Northern Ireland to the overseas travel trade. Being involved in shows such as the World Travel Market in London will help ensure Northern Ireland is firmly placed as a must see tourism destination."

Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said: "We have much to look forward to next year, with a wonderful programme of tourism highlights lined up, providing further compelling reasons to come here. In particular, the hosting of the first stages of the famous Giro d’Italia will be a fantastic opportunity. The race will route competitors around Belfast, along the spectacular Causeway Coast and down to historic Armagh, before moving on to Dublin and wonderful images of Northern Ireland will be beamed into the homes of millions of people around the world.

"Tourism Ireland will be pulling out all the stops to maximise the tourism potential of the prestigious race. We will also continue to highlight iconic experiences all over Northern Ireland – including Titanic Belfast, the Giant's Causeway and our unique National Trust properties. The Causeway Coastal Route, and driving holidays to Northern Ireland, will also be promoted widely."

(IT/CD)

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