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Excellent tourism performance welcomed

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has welcomed a very positive tourism performance in both the first nine months of 2016 and the full 12 months to September 2016.

tourismTourism statistics released by NISRA show a 10% increase in overall visitor spend and a 14% increase in external visitor expenditure.

Commenting on the latest statistics, the Minister said, “I am pleased that in the year to September 2016, visitors spent £821million in the local economy with almost three quarters of this, 74%, coming from external visitors – making tourism worth £606million as an export business. This is an increase of 10% in overall visitor spend when compared to the year to September 2015.

“The figures also indicate that visitor numbers continue to rise with total visitor numbers up to 4.6million in the year to September 2016. Visitors have also generally been staying longer and spending more, leading to an increase in overall visitor expenditure in both the first nine months of 2016 and the year to September 2016.

“The increases in visitors, nights and spend have been driven by a continued increase in external visitors particularly from GB and overseas. It is particularly pleasing that external visitor numbers have increased by 8% in the year to September 2016, up to 2.5 million.

“This is in line with our strategic aim to grow average nights and average spend per night of external visitors and grow the export value from tourism.”

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jan-2017Looking forward, Simon Hamilton said, “Tourism performance remains very positive as the momentum created over the last few years continues to build. The latest occupancy statistics up to November 2016 show that the record room occupancy levels experienced over the summer period have continued through the autumn.

“There was a 10% increase in bed spaces sold in hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs for the first 11 months of the year, which equates to almost 360,000 additional bed spaces sold compared to the same period in 2015. We have much to look forward to in 2017 and beyond.

“The Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland later this year at Portstewart and in 2019 we will host The Open. Our tourism offering goes from strength to strength with many new hotels, attractions and experiences in the pipeline and of course we now have the ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ in Titanic Belfast.”

Commenting on air passenger flow statistics for Northern Ireland up to September 2016 which are also published, the Minister said, “The overall growth in traffic through Northern Ireland airports is also very good news.

He added, “There were 7.89 million air passengers flowing through Northern Ireland airports in the year to September 2016. This represents a 9.2% increase in passengers on the previous year and is a clear indication that growth is returning to the Northern Ireland air travel market.”

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