2014 was a strong year for overseas tourism, with Tourism Ireland estimating we have welcomed about 1.8 million visitors (+5% growth over 2013) contributing approximately £508 million in revenue to the Northern Ireland economy. Tourism Ireland reflects on highlights of its promotional activity around the world in 2014, and predicts a successful year ahead. These have included promotions to highlight the Grande Partenza (or ‘Big Start’) of the Giro d’Italia in Northern Ireland and a ground-breaking campaign with Game of Thrones creators HBO.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “I want to encourage as many people as possible to visit Northern Ireland and I will continue to do all I can to highlight everything we have to offer on the world stage.
“Looking back at 2014, our unique tourist offerings, including the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia, Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre, Fermanagh’s Lakes and Londonderry’s city walls, proved to be a big hit with visitors from all over the world.
“2015 will be packed full of events which will attract international, national and local visitors. The initial Gran Fondo event will take place in June, in addition to the Tall Ships in Belfast and the Irish Open at Royal County Down. This blend of dynamic events, together with the renowned welcome we offer our visitors will place Northern Ireland high on the list of ‘must see’ holiday destinations.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “I am pleased to report an increase of +5% in overseas visitor numbers to Northern Ireland. It has been a good performance and reflects the sentiment we are hearing from our tourism industry partners in the markets and here at home, with our major tourism attractions reporting significant growth in overseas visitors.
“Throughout the [last] year, Tourism Ireland undertook a packed programme of promotions, to bring Northern Ireland to the attention of travellers everywhere. A major focus of our activity in the early part of the year was on highlighting the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia. We also joined forces with Games of Thrones creators HBO, on a ground-breaking advertising and social media campaign, leveraging the incredible success of the hugely popular TV series and its strong associations with Northern Ireland. And, with the biggest Northern Ireland team ever competing in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, Tourism Ireland took every opportunity to maximise the potential of the Games for tourism to Northern Ireland.”
At the beginning of December 2014, Tourism Ireland launched its marketing plans to promote Northern Ireland in 2015. The organisation aims to build on last year’s growth and to welcome almost 1.9 million overseas visitors to Northern Ireland (+6%) next year. Commenting on the plans for 2015 and beyond, Niall Gibbons said: “Following a successful 2014, ambitious targets have been set for 2015 and beyond. Next year, we will continue to highlight iconic experiences all over Northern Ireland – including Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and our unique National Trust properties. The Causeway Coastal Route, and driving holidays to Northern Ireland, will also be promoted widely. In 2015, we will working hard to maximise the tourism potential of the Irish Open at Royal County Down and the return of the Tall Ships to Belfast, as well as the opening of the Gobbins Cliff Path. We will continue to target people of Ulster-Scots descent; and to promote Northern Ireland as a top golf destination. And we will highlight the new British-Irish Visa Scheme in China and India, which will enable Chinese and Indian visitors to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a single visa of either country.”