Visits to Northern Ireland passes 2 million

Good news on the tourism front. The overall number of visits to NI between January and September topped out over the 2 million mark, with holiday visits growing by 14%.

  • Davros

    On the other side of the border:

    Tourist numbers drop 800,000 on 2003

    Some 5.1 million tourists visited Ireland between January and September this year, figures today have revealed.

    The figure marks a drop of almost 800,000 on the same period last year.

    Government Chief Whip Tom Kitt told the Dáil that overseas visitors to Ireland spent €2.5bn, an increase of €100m on 2003.

  • fair_deal


    Our tourism up and RoI tourism down despite a joint promotional campaign abroad. Interesting.

  • willowfield

    I wonder how much of this is a result of rip-off prices in the Republic – Dublin especially. It must put a lot of people off visiting for weekends.

  • Fraggle

    a key statistic has been missed out.

    “while holiday visits also show a growth of 14% to 406,000”

    the drop seen in the republic is twice the total number of holiday visitors to NI.

    2 million visitors came to NI. approx. approx 0.4 million were holidaymakers and 1.6 million were business visits of some sort.

    this compares to just under 20 million passing through dublin airport in 2003 according to the airport authority.

    not much of a comparison really. there is more traffic between the republic and britain compared to NI and britain. NI is a backwater.

  • willowfield

    It’s hardly surprising, given NI’s image.

    How do they know whether people are visiting for business or holiday?

  • maca

    “How do they know whether people are visiting for business or holiday?”

    I think they ask them at customs. “You here on business or pleasure?”

  • James

    There was a piece in the Opinion section of the Irish Times about this on the 22nd. The problem was stated as a reduction of tourists from the Republics largest source by far, the UK. It musta been something they said.

    The main reason cited in the article was price, price and price. They also cited the opening of low-cost destinations in Eastern Europe to which even Spain and Greece are loosing market share. The article also cited a decline in Irish hospitality. “Surveys found that half of all visitors were dissatisfied with restaurant charges, pub prices and the cost of goods and services. They also objected to rudeness.

    I can buy into the first three. I don’t patronize the mainline tourist industry so I can’t say much about the rudeness. I can say that when I did get close to that sector I found that fewer and fewer of the people working in the bars and restaurants were Irish.

  • willowfield


    I think they ask them at customs. “You here on business or pleasure?”

    Few people ever get stopped in customs. And there are no customs on domestic flights or ferries.

  • The Devil

    Yeah but when you take away the visits by the legal teams for the bloody sunday inquiry

    it falls to 21,314

  • maca

    It was a joke Willow, ya didn’t think I was serious did ya?

  • Young Fogey

    Of course, this has nothing to do with the smoking ban. Nothing at all to do with the smoking ban. And anyone who says so is very politically incorrect indeed. So much so that we’re just luck the Free State doesn’t have David Blunkett as its Minister of the Interior…

  • Tom Griffin

    Our tourism up and RoI tourism down despite a joint promotional campaign abroad.

    Is this a sign of Northern Ireland benefitting disproportionately from the work of the all-Ireland bodies, namely Tourism Ireland in this instance?

  • Davros

    It’s Funny You should ask that Tom – I was just finsishing my evening with a browse through the SF Website and I found this :

    Tourism figures highlight the success of All-Ireland marketing

  • Davros

    And as I’m keen on cross-border co-operation , I looked inside to see :

    Sinn Féin’s Tourism Spokespersons, Martin Ferris TD and Philip McGuigan MLA, have welcomed the increase in tourists visiting the Six Counties and have said that it is clearly down to the work of Tourism Ireland and the marketing of Ireland as a whole.

    clearly ?
    Any proof ?

    Mr McGuigan said:

    “NITB projections for 2004 show that over two million tourists will have visited the north by the end of the year. Tourism has come leaps and bounds in the past 5 years and a lot of this is down to the marketing of Ireland as a single destination.

    erm, no proof ….

    But I did find this strange claim …

    Events like the Gasworks Féile in Derry or Féile an Phobal in West Belfast, which is the largest community festival in Europe,

    Bigger than the Notting Hill Carnival ?
    Surely Not ?

  • Fraggle

    Davros, while they may not offer any proof, the SF assertion that marketing the ‘island as a whole’ has led to the increase in tourists coming to NI makes sense. Over the years, the republic has been successful in attracting tourists and has build a strong ‘brand’ abroad. Tourist numbers in the south are an order of magnitude greater than numbers coming to NI. NI stands to gain more by sharing the tourist numbers of the south and the south’s tourist brand than vice versa.

  • Davros

    Fraggle – on the other hand the increase in visitor numbers can just as easily be explained as part of the peace dividend Fraggle. Don’t get me wrong, I approve of cross border bodies. But sweeping claims like those made on the website, especially when in a politically sensitive area, need to be backed up with evidence.

    correlation does not imply causation.

    Another correlation that the DUP could put on their website – that the increase in tourist numbers reflects their electoral success.

    other potential factors –
    1)perceived rip-off Ireland. The ROI has a lot of adverse publicity
    2)positive publicity for NI through coverage of the peace process
    3)currency issues
    4)the smoking ban.