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Background Information on Northern Ireland Society - Tourism



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Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna and Brendan Lynn
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

Tourism in Northern Ireland

Summary

  • The internationally accepted definition of a tourist is "any visitor staying at least twenty-four hours in the country visited". This definition has been used to determine the number of visitors to Northern Ireland in the tables and statistics listed below.

  • The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is responsible for the development of tourism in Northern Ireland and the promotion of the area as a tourist destination. It is a non-departmental public body of the Department of Economic Development, and was constituted under the Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992.

  • In 1997, Northern Ireland had a total of 1.415 million visitors, generating £208 million revenue, which in turn represented 1.8% of Northern Ireland's Gross Domestic Product.

  • The majority of visitors to Northern Ireland over the years (on average 57%) have consistently been from England, Scotland and Wales, and the main reason for travel was to visit friends and relatives in Northern Ireland.

  • The number of visitors to Northern Ireland increased from 1.29 million in 1994 to 1.55 million in 1995 following the Republican and Loyalist Ceasefires. This number subsequently fell in 1996 to 1.43 million, and again in 1997 to 1.415 million (this was mainly due to a return to violence when the IRA ended its ceasefire on 9 February 1996; the ceasefire was reinstated on 20 July 1997).

  • The percentage number of visitors to Northern during peak holiday season, that is July to September, decreased from 36% in 1995 to 32% in 1997. This decline was in response to the political distrubances surrounding the disputed Orange Order march from Drumcree down through the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. The first stand-off occurred on 9 July 1995 and there was trouble associated with the march in subsequent years.

    Sources:

    The following tables provide breakdowns of statistics for Tourism in Northern Ireland. Much of this material has been taken from the 'Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics', the 'Irish Almanac and Yearbook of Facts', and 'Tourism Facts', produced annually by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
    Readers may also find useful information at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) web site {external_link}.
    Tourist Information on the Republic of Ireland can be found at the Board Fáilte website {external_link}.

    List of Tables

    Table NI-TOU-01: Visitor trips (number) to Northern Ireland, nights spent (number), and revenue generated (£million), 1963, 1967, 1972, and 1988 to 2001
    Chart NI-TOU-01: Visitor revenue generated (£million), 1963, 1967, 1972, and 1988 to 2001
    Table: NI-TOU-02: Tourism in Northern Ireland: visitors, revenue, and purpose of visit (units as indicated), 1992 to 2001
    Table NI-TOU-03: Staying visitors to Northern Ireland: by country of origin, and by number of trips, nights, and money spent (units as indicated), 1996 to 2001
    Table NI-TOU-04: Visitor trips (percentage) to Northern Ireland by country of origin, 1996 to 2001
    Table NI-TOU-05: Main purpose of visit (%) to Northern Ireland by country of origin, 2001
    Table NI-TOU-06: Methods of Arrival / Departure (%) used by visitors to Northern Ireland by County of Origin, 2001
    Table NI-TOU-07: Type of accommodation (%) used by visitors, 2001
    Table NI-TOU-08: Expenditure by visitors (%) by purpose of visit, 2001
    Table NI-TOU-09: Time of year in which visitors (%) travelled to Northern Ireland, by purpose of visit, 2001
    Table NI-TOU-10: Top 20 Northern Ireland tourist attractions and number of visitors, 2001
    Table NI-TOU-11: Type and amount (numbers) of accomodation available to tourists, 1991 to 2001
    Table NI-TOU-12: Occupancy rates (%) in Northern Ireland hotels, 1991-2001

    See also: Tables with earlier data


    Table NI-TOU-01: Visitor trips (number) to Northern Ireland, nights spent (number), and revenue generated (£million), 1963, 1967, 1972, and 1988 to 2001
    Year

    Trips

    Nights

    Revenue (£m)

    1963

    704,600

    7,670,900

    10.14

    1967

    108,000

    8,679,400

    16.94

    1972

    435,000

    3,499,400

    8.64

    1988

    930,400

    6,673,900

    97.00

    1989

    1,090,600

    6,636,400

    136.31

    1990

    1,152,800

    7,091,000

    153.09

    1991

    1,186,100

    7,160,000

    162.00

    1992

    1,254,500

    7,466,600

    161.67

    1993

    1,262,000

    7,794,000

    173.00

    1994

    1,293,900

    7,804,000

    183.00

    1995

    1,557,000

    8,500,000

    214.00

    1996

    1,436,000

    7,700,000

    206.00

    1997

    1,415,000

    7,500,000

    208.00

    1998

    1,477,000

    7,835,000

    217.00

    1999

    1,655,000

    8,768,000

    265.00

    2000

    1,672,000

    8,693,000

    265.00

    2001

    1,676,000

    8,692,000

    282.00

    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.2.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document



    Table: NI-TOU-02: Tourism in Northern Ireland: visitors, revenue, and purpose of visit (units as indicated), 1992 to 2001
    Visitors, revenue and purpose of visit

    1992

    1993

    1994

    1995

    1996

    1997

    1998

    1999

    2000

    2001

    Staying visitors                    
    From Great Britain (000s)

    726

    704

    708

    810

    825

    799

    838

    1,002

    950

    1,053

    From Irish Republic (000s)

    352

    373

    390

    470

    370

    345

    360

    384

    380

    365

    From overseas (000s)

    176

    185

    196

    277

    241

    271

    279

    269

    341

    258

    All staying visitors (000s)

    1,254

    1,262

    1,294

    1,557

    1,436

    1,415

    1,477

    1,655

    1,672

    1,676

    All revenue (£ millions)

    162

    173

    183

    214

    206

    208

    217

    265

    265

    282

    Purpose of visit                    
    Visiting friends or relatives (000s)

    510

    519

    522

    564

    590

    577

    617

    684

    743

    773

    %

    41

    41

    40

    36

    41

    41

    42

    41

    44

    46

    Holiday (000s)

    247

    251

    275

    461

    297

    263

    277

    305

    306

    274

    %

    20

    20

    21

    30

    21

    19

    19

    18

    18

    16

    Business (000s)

    380

    378

    388

    402

    409

    419

    434

    501

    464

    501

    %

    30

    30

    30

    26

    28

    29

    29

    30

    28

    30

    Other (000s)

    117

    114

    109

    130

    140

    156

    149

    165

    159

    128

    %

    9

    9

    9

    8

    10

    11

    10

    10

    10

    8

    All visits (000s)

    1,254

    1,262

    1,294

    1,557

    1,436

    1,415

    1,477

    1,655

    1,672

    1,676

    Source:
    Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics 2002, Table 9.14
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-03: Staying visitors to Northern Ireland: by country of origin, and by number of trips, nights, and money spent (units as indicated), 1996 to 2001
       

    1996

    1997

    1998

    1999

    2000

    2001

    England trips ('000)

    588

    571

    578

    707

    662

    718

      nights ('000)

    3,225

    3,108

    3,060

    3,839

    3,384

    3,714

      spending (£m)

    82

    85

    89

    115

    109

    137

    Scotland trips ('000)

    221

    214

    243

    276

    270

    314

      nights ('000)

    971

    1,004

    1,067

    1,385

    1,204

    1,357

      spending (£m)

    25

    26

    29

    43

    35

    48

    Wales trips ('000)

    16

    14

    17

    19

    19

    21

      nights ('000)

    81

    71

    90

    102

    98

    109

      spending (£m)

    2

    2

    3

    3

    3

    4

    Great Britain trips ('000)

    825

    799

    838

    1,002

    950

    1,053

      nights ('000)

    4,277

    4,183

    4,217

    5,327

    4,686

    5,180

      spending (£m)

    110

    113

    120

    161

    147

    189

    Republic of Ireland trips ('000)

    370

    345

    360

    384

    380

    365

      nights ('000)

    1,207

    1,086

    1,187

    1,223

    1,227

    940

      spending (£m)

    30

    27

    28

    31

    30

    26

    North America trips ('000)

    100

    109

    115

    123

    148

    102

      nights ('000)

    851

    909

    809

    794

    1,155

    902

      spending (£m)

    29

    31

    30

    33

    45

    30

    Europe trips ('000)

    97

    105

    108

    92

    126

    106

      nights ('000)

    817

    760

    922

    750

    913

    990

      spending (£m)

    22

    21

    25

    19

    21

    20

    Austrailia / New Zealand trips ('000)

    29

    39

    35

    35

    42

    30

      nights ('000)

    248

    312

    257

    315

    369

    301

      spending (£m)

    5

    9

    6

    9

    9

    8

    Other Overseas trips ('000)

    15

    18

    21

    19

    25

    20

      nights ('000)

    299

    259

    443

    359

    344

    379

      spending (£m)

    10

    7

    8

    11

    13

    9

    Total Staying Visitors trips ('000)

    1,436

    1,415

    1,477

    1,655

    1,672

    1,676

      nights ('000)

    7,700

    7,500

    7,835

    8,768

    8,693

    8,692

      spending (£m)

    206

    208

    217

    265

    265

    282

    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.3.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-04: Visitor trips (percentage) to Northern Ireland by country of origin, 1996 to 2001
     

    1996

    1997

    1998

    1999

    2000

    2001

    Trips ('000)

    1,436

    1,415

    1,477

    1,655

    1,672

    1,676

    Total (%)

    100%

    100%

    100%

    100%

    100%

    100%

    Origin

               

    England

    41

    41

    39

    43

    40

    43

    Scotland

    15

    15

    17

    17

    16

    19

    Wales

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Total Great Britain

    57

    57

    57

    61

    57

    63

    Republic of Ireland

    26

    24

    24

    23

    23

    22

    North America

    7

    8

    8

    7

    9

    6

    Europe

    7

    7

    7

    6

    8

    6

    Australia/New Zealand

    2

    3

    2

    2

    3

    2

    Other Overseas

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Source:

    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.3.

    Table also available as:

    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-05: Main purpose of visit (%) to Northern Ireland by country of origin, 2001
     

    Visiting friends and relatives

    Holiday

    Business

    Other

    Country of Origin

    %

    %

    %

    %

    England

    52

    6

    39

    3

    Scotland

    51

    14

    31

    4

    Wales

    34

    4

    54

    8

    Republic of Ireland

    39

    24

    18

    19

    North America

    34

    44

    13

    9

    Europe

    30

    34

    26

    10

    Australia/New Zealand

    47

    47

    3

    3

    Elsewhere

    45

    20

    20

    10

    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.4.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-06: Methods of Arrival / Departure (%) used by visitors1 to Northern Ireland by County of Origin, 2001
     

    By air

    By sea

    Via Republic of Ireland

    Country of Origin

    %

    %

    %

    Great Britain

    56

    40

    4

    Europe

    52

    14

    34

    North America

    36

    18

    45

    Australia/New Zealand

    44

    20

    36

    Elsewhere

    69

    10

    20

    Total

    54

    35

    11

    Notes:
    1. Excludes Republic of Ireland residents.
    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.4.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-07: Type of accommodation (%) used by visitors, 20011
     

    Trips

    Nights

    Spending

    Total

    1,676,000

    8,692,000

    £282m

    %

    100%

    100%

    100%

    Type of accommodation      
    Hotel

    28

    13

    35

    Guesthouse/Bed and breakfast

    11

    7

    10

    Caravan/Camping

    1

    1

    1

    Rented accommodation

    2

    6

    4

    Staying with friends/relatives

    55

    64

    43

    Other (e.g. youth hostels)

    4

    9

    7

    Notes:
    1. These tables should be treated with caution due to limitations with information sources.
    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.4.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-08: Expenditure by visitors (%) by purpose of visit, 20011
     

    Visiting friends & relatives

    Holiday

    Business

    All

    Spend (£m)

    111

    39

    110

    282

    Total %

    100%

    100%

    100%

    100%

    Accommodation/meals

    24

    42

    65

    43

    Internal travel

    9

    11

    14

    11

    Entertainment (inc. drinks)

    19

    17

    12

    16

    Shopping

    43

    28

    6

    28

    (Presents)

    14

    11

    2

    9

    Incidental expenditure

    4

    3

    3

    4

    Notes:
    1. These tables should be treated with caution due to limitations with information sources
    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.4.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-09: Time of year in which visitors (%) travelled to Northern Ireland, by purpose of visit, 20011
     

    Visiting friends & relations

    Holiday

    Business

    All

    Trips ('000)

    773

    274

    501

    1,676

    Total %

    100%

    100%

    100%

    100%

    January-March

    18

    13

    21

    18

    April-June

    24

    23

    27

    25

    July-September

    34

    50

    25

    33

    October-December

    24

    14

    27

    23

    Notes:
    1. These tables should be treated with caution due to limitations with information sources
    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.4.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-10: Top 20 Northern Ireland tourist attractions and number of visitors, 2001
    Rank Tourist Attraction

    Number of visitors

    1 Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre*

    383,133

    2 W5

    200,893

    3 Ulster Museum F

    195,916

    4 Pickie Family Fun Park*

    190,000

    5 Belfast Zoo

    172,323

    6 Oxford Island Nature Reserve F

    163,733

    7 Belleek Pottery*

    142,557

    8 Portstewart Strand

    130,431

    9 Exploris*

    127,200

    10 Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

    119,848

    11 Ulster American Folk Park

    110,533

    12 Old Bushmills Distillery

    97,130

    13 Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

    94,382

    14 Saint Patrick Centre

    84,995

    15 Dunluce Centre*

    75,920

    16 Waterworld

    72,522

    17 Castle Espie Wildfowl & Wetland Centre

    64,600

    18 Malone House* F

    62,500

    19 North Down Heritage Centre

    51,795

    20 Portrush Countryside Centre* F

    49,500

    Notes:
    * Estimate
    F Free admission
    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.5.
    Also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-11: Type and amount (numbers) of accomodation available to tourists, 1991 to 2001
    Year

    Hotels

    Guesthouses

    Self-catering

    Other accomodation

    Numbers Bedrooms Numbers Bedrooms Numbers Bedrooms Numbers Bedrooms
    1991

    126

    3,278

    146

    1,081

    134

    785

    693

    4,543

    1992

    126

    3,284

    147

    1,128

    158

    857

    703

    4,456

    1993

    123

    3,388

    140

    1,007

    207

    1,150

    630

    4,847

    1994

    126

    3,537

    150

    1,086

    266

    1,470

    684

    5,244

    1995

    129

    3,678

    162

    1,186

    338

    1,899

    869

    5,962

    1996

    135

    3,975

    159

    1,200

    378

    2,033

    1,011

    6,538

    1997

    137

    4,469

    159

    1,234

    408

    2,310

    991

    6,531

    1998

    137

    4,899

    160

    1,257

    436

    2,328

    952

    6,642

    1999

    133

    4,893

    148

    1,154

    483

    2,524

    954

    6,655

    2000

    130

    4,957

    153

    1,169

    532

    2,714

    932

    6,674

    2001

    133

    5,295

    156

    1,192

    563

    2,978

    862

    6,476

    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.5-6.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


    Table NI-TOU-12: Occupancy rates (%) in Northern Ireland hotels, 1991-20011

    January-December period

    Room occupancy

    Bedspace occupancy

    Visitor content

    1991

    49

    33

    56

    1992

    47

    32

    54

    1993

    48

    32

    61

    1994

    51

    31

    61

    1995

    62

    41

    68

    1996

    56

    35

    65

    19972

    53

    33

    62

    1998

    53

    32

    62

    1999

    53

    34

    65

    2000

    53

    33

    64

    2001

    53

    33

    61

    Notes:
    1. The occupancy rate represents the number of rooms or bedspaces taken in a given period as a percentage of the total rooms or bedspaces on offer. Double or twin-bedded rooms count as having two bedspaces. Visitor content is the percentage of all guests registered who come from outside Northern Ireland.
    2. A new survey methodology was introduced in 1997 and therefore data pre-1997 is not directly comparable with that post-1997.
    Source:
    Northern Ireland Tourism Board web site (www.nitb.com), Tourism Facts 2001 p.7.
    Table also available as:
    Rich Text Format (RTF) Document; Microsoft Excel Document


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