Northern Ireland

NI tourism spending reaches record high

Giant's Causeway Image copyright PA
Image caption The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's most popular tourist attraction

Spending on tourism in Northern Ireland in 2017 reached a record high of £926m official figures suggest.

That is an increase of 9% on 2016 and represents a 34% increase in spending in the last five years.

External visitors were responsible for £657m of the spending with the rest coming from local people.

Tourism NI said last summer was "outstanding" for the Titanic Belfast attraction and the Causeway Coastal Route.

The Giant's Causeway was the most popular attraction with more than 1m visitors.

Titanic Belfast came in second with 760,000.

Image copyright Titanic Belfast
Image caption More than 85% of Titanic Belfast's visitors come from outside of Northern Ireland

The total number of overnight trips in 2017 was estimated at 4.9m.

A major focus of the tourism industry is on number of external visitors - in 2017 they accounted for 2.7m overnights, the highest estimate on record.

The biggest external market is Great Britain, with visitors from there accounting for 29% of all overnights.

The next biggest market is the Republic of Ireland with visitors from there representing 10% of all overnights.

Overnight visits from the Republic saw the strongest estimated growth, up by 6% in 2017 with a 49% increase in those who said they were visiting for a holiday.

Increased holiday visits from the Republic are likely to have been driven by the weakness of the pound against the euro which makes Northern Ireland a relatively better value destination.

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