Northern Ireland reports surge in tourism from Republic

Euro-friendly exchange rate and success of tourist attractions cited as reasons for boost

The number of people visiting the North from the Republic jumped by a quarter last year, boosted by an increasingly euro-friendly exchange rate, new figures show.

Tourists spent £2.4 million (€2.7 million) a day in the North during the first nine months of 2016, while overall revenue from tourism grew by £57 million to a record £658 million in the same period.

The North also attracted record numbers of visitors between January and September, with 1.9 million people visiting from external locations.

The number of visitors who travelled from the Republic jumped by 27 per cent, with the majority of people who took part in surveys stating that they came to the North to visit friends or relatives, although more than 100,000 from the Republic also said they came just for a “holiday”.


Overnight trips

In total, visitors from the State took 286,219 overnight trips to the North during the nine months. This number is included in a total of 3.5 million overnight trips made by external visitors, with the majority of visitors – 1.04 million – coming from Britain.

According to Tourism NI, the agency responsible for marketing Northern Ireland, the North attracted "more visitors, who stayed longer and spent more" during the nine months up to September 2016.

John McGrillen, Tourism NI chief executive, said many of the North’s top tourist draws, such as Titanic Belfast, recently named the world’s leading tourist attraction at the World Travel Awards, had an “outstanding summer”.

Mr McGrillen said the Year of Food and Drink campaign had also proved highly successful and there was no doubt that the “more favourable exchange rate” had been a major factor in wooing visitors from the Republic.

Overseas markets generated two-thirds of total tourism revenue.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business