‘Belfast is booming’ was the feeling at the launch of the summer campaign by Visit Belfast and Tourism Northern Ireland.
Ambitious new pans to drive continued tourism growth in Belfast were announced by Visit Belfast. Anne McMullan, Visit Belfast, said that Belfast was “back on the map for the right reasons”. When you think that less than a decade ago Belfast had one cruise ship and in 2015 expects 60, one can see the incredible journey Belfast has made. With over 112,000 passengers and crew visiting, this is just one area where Belfast has grown tremendously.
After showcasing the successes and huge achievements made in 2014, Visit Belfast said it was now seeking to significantly raise the number of leisure and business overnight stays from 290,000 to 690,000 within three years. By 2018, Visit Belfast said its renewed focus on driving growth in leisure, business and cruise visitors will deliver a record return of £370 million to the local economy.
Belfast’s Integrated Tourism Strategy 2015-20 has already earmarked a planned doubling in tourism revenue for the city by 2020 to £870 million from £438 million in 2013. Tourism is a major contributor to economic development in Northern Ireland, particularly in Belfast.
Belfast has secured web summits and conferences that will bring 5,500 delegates to the city in June, which should equate to €8 million in revenue and 16,500 bednights. Hotels are a barometer for success and with occupancy rates of 76% overall and 86% at weekends, the only problem is “we need more hotels”, said Anne McMullen.
This summer, Northern Ireland will host the Irish Open, the Pro 12 Rugby, BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year and the Gran Fondo bicycle race, and that’s just in the sport category! Following on from the success of last year’s Giro d’Italia, cycling enthusiasts have the opportunity to cycle alongside previous Giro champions. There are 25 big tourism events between now and the end of August, including top music festivals that will feature Calvin Harris, Sterophonics, Ellie Goulding and many more.
The world-famous Tall Ships are coming to Belfast on 2nd July. With 500,000 visitors expected, and worldwide coverage showcasing the maritime city, it should be a phenomenal success. The backdrop of the Titanic will add to what will surely be an amazing sight: 50+ vessels from across the globe in Belfast Harbour. When you think that the population of Belfast is 300,000 and there are 500,000 visitors expected, it should generate a real cosmopolitan feel to the city.
Overall visitor numbers up 6% year on year. Its reputation of great sights, fantastic food and high quality entertainment is why, last month, Belfast was placed yet again in the Top 10 UK destinations in a survey carried out by the world’s largest online travel forum. TripAdvisor described the city as “a cosmopolitan destination” that has “life pulsing through it” and an ideal place for an “energising getaway”.
TV enthusiasts can explore some of the stunning locations featured in HBO’s award-winning Game of Thrones with a special tour and unique activities. And who wouldn’t want to explore the birthplace of RMS Titanic with a tour of the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction? Need I say more….
This quote from Lonely Planet sums it up: “Get there early and enjoy it before the rest of the world arrives.”