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NI tourism: Data shows 50% jump in cross-border visitors

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By John Campbell,BBC News NI economics and business editor

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Growth in south-to-north tourism has been significant since the pandemic

The number of tourist visitors from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland grew by almost 50% in 2023, official data suggests.

The figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) show an estimated 1.3m overnight trips.

That is compared to just over 890,000 in 2022.

Growth in south-to-north tourism has been significant since the pandemic, with a 145% jump in overnight visits since 2019.

The pandemic is likely to have played a part, as people were prevented from flying to overseas destinations.

That led to an initial bump in visitor numbers, which has been sustained.

The estimated spend by Republic of Ireland visitors in 2023 was also up by about 50%, from £181m to nearly £270m.

Troubles legacy

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the results were “exceptional, especially given the tough economic climate and the increased levels of competition from other destinations”.

He added other factors driving growth include investment in new visitor experiences, and increased marketing and promotion in the Republic of Ireland.

The Republic of Ireland was for many years a difficult market for Tourism NI, as the legacy of the Troubles meant it was a challenge to attract people north of the border.

“Our research shows that every part of NI is benefiting from this investment and the very strong growth in visitor numbers and spend which has resulted from it,” Mr McGrillen added.

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