Commenting on the figures for overseas visitors to Northern Ireland in 2012 issued by NISRA today, Simon Gregory, Tourism Ireland’s director of markets, said: “Figures published by NISRA today show that we welcomed 1.55 million overseas visitors to Northern Ireland in 2012. While the growth in the total number of overseas visitors remains flat (we welcomed 1.56 million overseas visitors in 2011), I am pleased to see growth of +7% in overseas holidaymakers, which is where our efforts are focused, and +3% growth in revenue for the Northern Ireland economy.
“ni2012 provided Tourism Ireland and the tourism industry around Northern Ireland with a golden opportunity to change perceptions and position Northern Ireland as a top holiday and business destination in a completely new way. The compelling story of Titanic, with its vast international appeal, provided Tourism Ireland with unparalleled opportunities to raise the profile of Northern Ireland on the global stage in the first half of the year. A massive promotional drive was undertaken to highlight the stunning new Titanic Belfast and the city’s famous maritime story. Tourism Ireland estimates that our promotions for ni2012 reached over 100 million people during the course of 2012. Our £4+ million marketing activity programme was the most extensive ever undertaken for Northern Ireland and the feedback we have received from our industry partners about 2012 was generally very positive.”
Tourism Ireland invited more than 550 key journalists from leading broadcast, digital and print media outlets around the world to Northern Ireland to celebrate the opening of Titanic Belfast and enjoy the many other festivals and activities that took place during 2012; the resulting articles and broadcasts generated coverage worth about £121 million of positive publicity for Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland is confident that this huge, positive exposure will pay dividends in the years ahead, defining what makes Northern Ireland different, engaging and a great place for a holiday or short break and showing potential visitors everywhere why they should choose to come here.
Simon Gregory continued: “We are now building upon this success in 2013, with the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture celebrations providing fresh and compelling reasons for overseas visitors to come here. Hosting the G8 summit also presented a truly ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to showcase Fermanagh and Northern Ireland – not only to world leaders but to a global audience through the international media. This year is about delivering growth and building on the new levels of awareness of Northern Ireland, arising from our ni2012 promotions, to ensure that Northern Ireland increases its share of the global travel business.”