North has problem attracting visitors from Republic, says report
Tourism NI want to grow annual visitor revenue from Republic to £140m by 2025
The Titanic Experience in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s top visitor attraction: visitors from the Republic made 221,000 overnight trips to the North over the first half of the year, spending £40 million in the process. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Northern Ireland is “currently not a sufficiently compelling or motivating destination” for some visitors from the Republic even before Brexit is factored into the equation, according to a new report commissioned by government sponsored agency Tourism NI.
The report, compiled by an industry-led taskforce, highlights that, while Northern Ireland is in general positively regarded by prospective visitors from the South, many also believe there is a lack of “must-see and do” attractions to persuade them to visit.
Tourism chiefs in Northern Ireland want to grow annual visitor revenue from the Republic to £140 million (€160 million) in the North by 2025 but the taskforce report details in depth that potential visitors from the South are currently not really aware of what they can see or do during a break.
According to Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan, during the first half of this year the agency’s “Say Hello To More” marketing campaign helped persuade visitors from the Republic to make 221,000 overnight trips to the North, which was worth £40 million to the local economy.
But the report also warns that visitors from the South “do not feel confident or capable of organising a short break in Northern Ireland” and that there are also some “minimal” but lingering perceptions among some about “safety, security and not being welcome” in the North.
It also starkly illustrates that there is also the issue of what Brexit could mean for the North’s tourism sector particularly in light of the last 24 hours.
The taskforce found that while the weaker pound had made Northern Ireland a more attractive destination for visitors from the South the future remained unclear.
“Brexit may bring both perceived and real issues to the forefront, [for example] border controls, levies and duties, which currently don’t apply and may increase costs.
“The impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland’s appeal, accessibility and cost competitiveness needs to be closely monitored and managed in the future,” the taskforce concludes.