Visit Belfast delivers record results for the city

7 Apr 2017

Visit Belfast has revealed that in the 2016-17 financial year, its activities generated an impressive £122 million for the local economy.

The results were achieved across Visit Belfast’s three work areas - business tourism, leisure tourism and visitor servicing, and represented an increase of £25m on the previous year.

Visit Belfast confirmed that in 2016-17 it had successfully bid for and won 77 conferences, delivered 12 city break campaigns across key markets in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and Europe, welcomed 83 cruise ships carrying 143,000 passengers and crew, and handled over 750,000 visitor enquiries at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre and at the two airport information points.

Visit Belfast is a public/private partnership, with support from Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland and over 500 industry partners. This partnership approach resulted in an impressive return of £34 for every £1 invested in Visit Belfast in the past financial year.

Councillor Aileen Graham, chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee said:
“Belfast City Council’s investment in Visit Belfast continues to reap excellent results for the city and its economy, supporting over 17,000 jobs.

“This level of productivity represents a significant return on the investment Belfast City Council has made in Visit Belfast, and is indicative of an efficient, effective and industry-focused, service delivery organisation that delivers real value for money for rate payers.

“Belfast City Council’s Belfast Agenda sets out an ambitious vision for Belfast’s tourism industry, aiming to double the value of out-of-state tourism by 2021.”

Marketing campaigns, promoting Belfast as a vibrant city-break destination, contributed significantly to Visit Belfast’s success, generating £58m to the local economy. In partnership with carriers, attractions, hotels and Tourism Ireland, Visit Belfast was able to promote Belfast as an exciting destination to potential visitors across multiple markets on the Island of Ireland, Great Britain, and direct access cities in Europe. This included the ‘Find Your Belfast’ campaign, which marketed the city’s offering across both the autumn season and the crucial festive trading period, and delivered almost £43m to the city alone.

The reopening of the Belfast Waterfront in May proved to be a game-changer for conference tourism, allowing the city to bid for and host larger conferences in its state-of-the-art events spaces. In 2016-17, Visit Belfast won conferences that will take place from 2017 up to 2020, including the IDF World Dairy Summit, the World Health Organisation’s Healthy Cities conference and the College of Occupational Therapists conference.

Visitor servicing continues to be a vital element of Visit Belfast’s portfolio. Through the flagship Visit Belfast Welcome Centre on Donegall Square North, two tourist information points at the airports, and interactive, self-service touch screens in key visitor locations, Visit Belfast was able to present visitors with information on the growing list of things to see and do in Belfast.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said:
“Visit Belfast sets ambitious targets for growth each year, and this year, we exceeded our overall economic impact target by 35%. This partnership between the public and private sectors has been very effective in leveraging a larger marketing and sales resource in order to compete internationally and put Belfast on the visitor map.

“With continued investment in our tourism infrastructure – from hotel development to visitor attractions – improving air access into the city, and accolades like Titanic Belfast being crowned the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction, Belfast is in a prime position to attract increasing numbers of visitors.

“It is thanks to the commitment and sheer hard-work of those working in the tourism sector that we have made such great strides in attracting visitors to Belfast, and I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in the success of Belfast’s tourism sector, especially Visit Belfast’s strategic partners Translink, Belfast One, Diageo NI and Value Cabs, and our corporate partners Titanic Belfast, Victoria Square and Hastings Hotels for their ongoing and sustained support for the tourism industry. Further thanks must go to Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland for their vision and investment in Visit Belfast, and to Tourism Ireland, for supporting us in our international marketing campaigns.”

Photo caption: Belfast City Councillor Aileen Graham, Chair of the council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee and Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, are joined by Visit Belfast partners (l-r) Eimear Lewis, Titanic Belfast, Chris Conway, Translink, Bronagh Lawlor, Belfast One and Paul McCausland, Value Cabs, to celebrate a successful partnership that generated £122m for the local economy in 2016-17.