Guide

Start a tourist accommodation business

The tourist economy in Northern Ireland

Tourism in Northern Ireland  currently generates a revenue of £764 million and attracts 4.5 million visitors. The aim is to double tourism’s contribution to the economy by 2020.

In the past number of years the Northern Ireland tourism industry has benefited from significant major events such as Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 and the Giro d'Italia in 2014.

Future opportunities will arise with the Open in 2019, as well as the growing demand in screen tourism following the worldwide success of programmes like Game of Thrones.

Northern Ireland has also benefited from other significant tourism developments including the opening of the Titanic visitor centre and the new visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway.

Key statistics

Tourism statistics released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show:

  • In 2017 there were an estimated 4.9 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland. This includes trips by external visitors to Northern Ireland and domestic trips taken by local residents. Estimated expenditure associated with these trips was £926m.  These are the highest estimates on record.
  • Overnight trips to Northern Ireland by external visitors was estimated to be 2.7 million. Expenditure associated with these trips was £657m.
  • An estimated 2.1 million hotel room nights were sold in Northern Ireland. Hotel room occupancy was estimated to be 73% in 2017.
  • A total of 112 cruise ships docked at Northern Ireland ports in 2017.  This was an increase compared to 93 cruise ships in 2016 and a marked increase from 33 cruise ships in 2011.
  • When all sources are considered together, the statistics point towards an upward trend in overall tourism activity in Northern Ireland between 2011 and 2017.