Tourism in Northern Ireland remains on track to be a £1bn industry by 2020, the latest official figures suggest
Figures for overseas visitors to Northern Ireland for 2018, issued by NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) show that in 2018 there were an estimated 5.0 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland. This includes trips by External visitors to Northern Ireland and domestic trips by local residents. Estimated expenditure on these trips was £968m.
The Giant's Causeway, Titanic Belfast and the Ulster Museum were the three most popular visitor attractions in 2018.
A total of 128 cruise ships docked at Northern Ireland ports in 2018, a marked increase from 62 cruise ships in 2013.
Domestic tourism (trips made by NI residents) was the largest segment of the market, accounting for 44% of trips in 2018.
Great Britain was the next largest (28%), followed by the Republic of Ireland (12%) and the rest of the world (16%).
Spending by external tourists (non-NI) in 2018 was estimated to be £669m, a rise of 28% compared to £524m in 2013.
Overseas tourism delivers over £560 million per year for the Northern Ireland economy, helping to sustain over 65,000 jobs in local communities.
In 2019, Tourism Ireland aims to build on the success of 2018 – growing overseas tourism revenue by +8%, driven by an increase of +4% in visitor numbers.
Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that tourism growth from overseas continues. We are rolling out an extensive programme of promotions throughout 2019, to highlight Northern Ireland around the world. We are pulling out all the stops to leverage the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities of the final series of Game of Thrones and The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. Our aim is to position Northern Ireland as a year-round, ‘must visit’ destination and to ensure that the contribution of overseas tourism to the local economy continues to expand.