Commenting on the figures for overseas visitors to Northern Ireland for the first quarter of 2013, issued by NISRA today, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Figures published by NISRA today show that we welcomed 309,000 overseas visitors to Northern Ireland in the first three months of 2013 – +17% on the first quarter of 2012. I am very pleased to see growth of +27% in visitors from GB – our largest market – which has been particularly challenging over the past few years. We have been rolling out the new “GB Path to Growth” plan this year, in conjunction with our tourism industry partners, to boost travel from this market. I am also pleased to see growth in the number of holidaymakers for the first quarter – from GB (+27%) and other overseas markets (+4%).
“The sentiment from tourism enterprises around Northern Ireland about more recent months, including the peak summer season, is somewhat mixed – with leading attractions and accommodation providers in urban centres and tourism hotspots doing well, and very positive feedback in particular from our tourism partners in Londonderry. Certainly this year, the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture celebrations have been 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. For Tourism Ireland, 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.
Niall Gibbons continued: “Our autumn campaign is now in full swing – we have a really extensive programme in place between now and the end of the year, showcasing Northern Ireland around the world and targeting late-season travellers. The period September to December traditionally yields as much as 30% of overseas tourism business; and autumn is a good opportunity, with the many festivals and events that are happening in Belfast and around Northern Ireland – including the Belfast Festival at Queens, the Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival, Belfast Music Week and the staging of the prestigious Turner Prize.”