13 April 2006

Record numbers visiting Belfast


Tourist chiefs say Belfast looks ahead to continued growth

More than six million people visited Belfast last year - the highest figure on record.

The increase of 8% on 2004 meant a total of 6.4 million people came to the city.

Belfast Visitor & Convention Bureau said out-of-state visitors rose by 10% to more than 1.2 million.

Overnight visitors increased from about one million in 2004 to more than 1.17 million last year. The bureau said it was "excellent news for tourism".

It estimated that a visitor spend of £285m was brought to Belfast during 2005.

'Worked diligently'

The bureau's chief executive, Gerry Lennon, said they were looking ahead to continued growth.

"The figures we are announcing bring welcome news of Belfast's continually growing popularity as both a business and leisure destination," he said.

"Over the past five years, we at BVCB have set ourselves tough targets which have consistently been met.

"Alongside our partners in the public and private sector, we have worked diligently to develop our visitor offering and market the city at home and abroad, changing and developing perceptions of Belfast."

Councillor Diane Dodds of the council's tourism committee said the city "now enjoys an established reputation in the city-break market".

"This latest significant increase in visitors and associated spend shows how important the city has become as a tourist destination, bringing in significant amounts of revenue and positive publicity for Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole," she said.

"As we celebrate the centenary of the City Hall, we have more to offer visitors than ever before and if we can continue to build on this platform of success, there is no reason why we should not see sustained growth in the future."

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