Northern Ireland’s natural beauty and long standing reputation for hospitality provide a perfect backdrop for a growing activities tourism market. The market is estimated to be worth up to £100 million per annum.
The niche market has grown significantly since 1998 and currently engages over 200 businesses offering over 40 different types of activities. Some examples include:
- garden and forests
- cycling and mountain biking
- walking and hiking
- canoeing and water sports
Getting your tourism product right
Activity tourism generally combines physical activity or adventure, cultural exchange or interaction, and an engagement with nature.
The market is commonly made up of hard adventure activities, such as climbing, trekking and mountain biking, and soft adventure activities such as walking tours, city bike tours, canoe hire or camping.
Soft activities make the majority of the market as they:
- appeal to a wider range of people
- require less physical output than hard activities
- generally have lower perceived or real risks
- are easily adapted for different visitors, eg families
Many activities, such as walking, hiking and often cycling, are typically free to access and so do not have a value market size in their own right. However, they enhance the visitor experience and can increase opportunities for visitors to spend, eg on food, drink and accommodation.
Golf is currently a 'key draw' activity for Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and overseas visitors to Northern Ireland. See golf tourism.
For other business sector insights, browse through Tourism Intelligence Reports.