Published on : Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Tourism in Northern Ireland earned more than £1bn in a year for the first time in 2019, the latest official figures suggest.
However, the industry has since suffered a huge downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Stormont Executive had a target of £1bn in annual revenue by 2020. The official figures from the NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) suggest that was reached in 2019.
The tourism numbers can be difficult to measure accurately from year to year but the data points to a statistically significant increase in visitor numbers and spending between 2017 and 2019.
Domestic tourism (trips made by NI residents) was the largest segment of the market, accounting for 44% of the 5.3m overnight trips in 2019. Great Britain was the next largest (27%), followed by the Republic of Ireland (14%) and the rest of the world (15%).
Earlier this year tourism industry leaders told MLAs that revenues could fall to around £400m in 2020 and that it would take at least two years to recover.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds said the figures give hope that the industry can be rebuilt.
She explained that Northern Ireland’s tourism industry is facing extremely challenging conditions at the moment and I am doing all she can to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. However, she was encouraged that these statistics give us solid evidence that they can recover.