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Northern Ireland Unveils an Ambitious Tourism Strategy with a Targeted 75% Industry Growth Over the Next Decade

Northern Ireland has introduced a comprehensive tourism strategy designed to amplify the industry’s value by up to 75% over the next ten years. The baseline year for this ambitious plan is 2019, a pivotal period representing the last full year with reliable tourism data. During that year, annual tourism spending in Northern Ireland surpassed £1 billion for the first time.

Despite a significant downturn in the industry due to the global pandemic, the Department for the Economy anticipates a partial recovery, with visitor numbers expected to reach 90% of 2019 levels this year. The proposed strategy emphasises a shift in focus from merely attracting more visitors to encouraging existing ones to extend their stays and increase their overall tourism expenditure.

A key element of the strategy involves concentrating resources on four pivotal markets: the domestic Northern Ireland market, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and North America. These markets were selected based on their scale, value, growth potential, and the likelihood of considering Northern Ireland as a desirable holiday destination.

Furthermore, the strategy aims to transform Northern Ireland into a year-round tourist destination, diversifying spending beyond traditional hotspots. Recognising that some popular attractions, such as the Causeway Coastal Route, may be reaching peak capacity during certain seasons, the plan proposes strategic investments through city and growth deals to create opportunities for capacity building in alternative locations. This approach aims to encourage a more widespread dispersion of visitors and promote sustainable tourism growth.

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