Break for the border – trips to North rise, but spend is down

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  • 206,000 trips – up 27pc
  • 101,000 holiday trips – up 3pc
  • £42m spend – down 7pc
  • 1333,000 visits to family friends – up 114pc
  • 18,000 business trips – down 17pc
  • 35,000 other trips – down 21pc
  • 646,000 nights – up 1pc

The North enjoyed a post-Brexit bounce as tourists headed across the border as sterling tanked. New figures show a 27pc rise in the number of visitor from January to September 2016.

The North’s Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said “demand was likely boosted by the favourable, post-EU referendum Euro/Sterling exchange rate. The pound depreciated from €1.31 pre-referendum (June 23) to €1.15 three months later, falling to a five-year low by early October 2016.”

While the growth in those who came to visit friends and/or relatives was more evident – up 114pc – more than 100,000 came to the North for a holiday. But the £42m spend was down 7pc on 2015.

The figures show that tourism generated 12.6m nights, an increase of 3pc, and £658m revenue, £57m more than during the same period in 2015, or an increase of 9%.

Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen said; “Some £2.4m was spent by tourists every day during the first nine months of 2016, a period that saw the opening of the newly extended Belfast Waterfront and an outstanding summer for Titanic Belfast, the Causeway Coastal Route and many other tourism attractions.

John McGrillen, CEO of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board

John McGrillen, CEO of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board

“Other contributing factors include the highly successful programme for Year of Food and Drink and, of course, more favourable exchange rates across the peak holiday season.”

He said “Britain and overseas markets performed very well, significantly contributing to increased revenue. More of the January to September trips were holiday trips, up 5pc, with the 1.67m holiday trips representing almost half (47pc) of all trips during this period (up from 46pc in 2015).

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