Northern Ireland

Nearly 1m tourists visit NI in first half of 2017

Giant's Causeway
Image caption Famous landmarks including the Causeway Coast will be promoted

Northern Ireland welcomed almost 1m overseas visitors in the first half of 2017.

The 973,000 overseas visitors in the first half of 2017 was a rise of 4% on the first half of 2016, according to the NI Statistics and Research Agency.

Ten Northern Ireland tourism businesses are now hoping to capitalise on the burgeoning market this week at the World Travel Market in London.

The event heralds the start of the tourism campaign for next year.

Famous landmarks including the Causeway Coast will be promoted, along with sites such as the Gobbins, Fermanagh Lakeland and Titanic Belfast.

Over the next three days, the Northern Ireland companies will engage in thousands of meetings with British and international tour operators to negotiate and exchange contracts for 2018.

Organisers estimate that almost £3bn's worth of business was done at last year's World Travel Market.

Image copyright Peter Macdiarmid
Image caption Titanic Belfast is one of Northern Ireland's most visited tourist attractions

Overseas tourism brings about £543m per year to Northern Ireland's economy.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said the large representation of NI companies at the World Travel Market was both welcome and essential in a highly competitive global marketplace.

"Tourism Ireland has been rolling out an extensive promotional programme throughout 2017, showcasing Northern Ireland around the world to prospective holidaymakers," he said.

Image caption Sites such as the Gobbins coastal path will also be promoted

"Our aim is to deliver further success in 2018 and beyond, to ensure that Northern Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business."

About 182 countries and regions will be represented at the World Travel Market, with about 51,500 travel professionals from around the world and more that 3,000 international media in attendance.

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