Visit Belfast contributed a massive £122 million to the city’s tourism economy last year as part of its marketing and sales drive to push leisure break, conference business, cruise ship arrivals and tourist enquiries to new highs.
The city region’s official Destination Marketing Management Organisation also confirmed at its annual general meeting (AGM) that its sales, marketing and visitor servicing activity had helped to generate £32 to the city economy for every £1 invested.
Visit Belfast said its efforts to market the city nationally and internationally – supported by its industry partners and funders – delivered over 500,000 hotel bed nights for Belfast in 2016, around one fifth of which were linked to the 77 conference wins secured, a major contributor that attracts international visitors and increases mid-week and off-peak business for the city.
Visit Belfast, a public/private partnership backed by Belfast City Council and supported by Tourism Northern Ireland and over 500 industry partners, also handled 755,000 tourist enquiries at its three tourist information centres.
A new high for visitor interest during the period was also evident by a record two million visits made to visitbelfast.com, as well as over 1.4 million engagements across its social media platforms.
Belfast’s success in competing for cruise visitors to cities across the UK and Ireland has gone from strength to strength, with this year delivering 93 cruise ships and 155,000 visitors as part of its Cruise Belfast partnership with Belfast Harbour.
With the increased importance of local, national and international sport to tourism – such as the Women’s Rugby World Cup and the UEFA U-19 Women’s Football Championship, which were both hosted in Belfast recently – sport a key theme at the Visit Belfast AGM event, held at the Kingspan Stadium.
Rory Best, Ireland and Ulster Rugby captain was a guest speaker at the event, together with Shane Logan, Ulster Rugby’s Chief Executive, Adam Keefe of the Belfast Giants and keynote speaker Enda McNulty, former all-star Armagh GAA player and motivational coach.
Celebrating yet another year of achievement, Howard Hastings, Chairman of Visit Belfast, congratulated all those involved in tourism for the collective efforts made – but he warned against complacency.