More people visited the Titanic Belfast visitor centre last year but the operating company behind the tourist attraction reported a fall in profit.
Titanic Belfast Limited said visitor numbers rose 2 per cent last year to 625,000, with three-quarters of visitors coming from 170 countries outside Northern Ireland. That figure was 45,530, or 8 per cent, ahead of the target set by directors for the three year old venture.
Revenue from conference and banqueting services also exceeded targets - by 15 per cent – and conference delegate numbers were 43 per cent ahead of projections.
Total revenue jumped almost 7 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March 2015 to £11.7 million.
However profit before tax fell by almost a third to £800,697 as administrative expenses jumped sharply.
Profit after tax of £502,596 was boosted by a £128,412 payment relating to a management charge received from a related business Ivywood, which had inadvertently not been included in the prior year accounts.
In their report, the directors say that the “appeal of the Titanic story, the quality of the visitor experience facilities and the professionalism of staff continues to drive consumer demand”.
They said that an independent three-year review calculated the economic benefit of the attraction to Belfast at £105 million since it opened in 2012.
The company’s main concern for its future is the possibility of any adverse event that could damage the tourism industry in Northern Ireland, deterring foreign visitors.
“This is particularly important in the context of a tightening of the visitor numbers from Northern Ireland, from which circa 678,000 have already visited since opening,” the directors said in their report.
The business currently employs 145 people, the accounts state, down from the average of 153 employed over the 2014/15 period.
The figures were filed after warnings from the registrar of companies that the business risked being removed from the register.
Since the year end, Titanic Belfast has taken over management of SS Nomadic, which was build alongside the fated liner and is commonly referred to as "Titanic's little sister". The company said it has proved a popular visitor attraction in its own right, and especially so as a venue for events.
Titanic Belfast is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Donegal developer Pat Doherty’s Jersey-incorporated Dockside Investments Ltd. Doherty’s Harcourt Developments is the company behind the redevelopment of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.