16 AUG 2017
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District’s £60m tourism boost

9 August 2017

The number of visitors to Newry, Mourne and Down increased by over 40 per cent in 2016 – bringing in an extra £60m to the local economy over the 12-month period.

Latest figures released by the NI Statistics and Research Agency revealed that 571,400 people paid for overnight stays in the district - up from 406,302 the pervious year. 

This, the agency said, represents an overall spend of £60.9m compared to £48m in 2015 and a 27 per cent increase.

Only Belfast and the Causeway Coast council areas enjoyed higher visitors numbers and revenue generated. The figures make good reading for the Council, which launched an ambitious tourism strategy earlier this year that outlined its five-year plan to make the district the premiere tourism destination in Ireland.

The Tourism Strategy identified “mountains, myths and maritime” as its three tourism selling points and stated that tourism was the Council’s key priority in boosting the local economy.

Council Chairperson Roisin Mulgrew said the increase in visitor numbers highlighted the importance of the industry to the district and the Council’s strategy.

She said: “The latest tourism statistics really demonstrate the importance of this vibrant industry to our local economy. Tourism generates huge levels of new revenue and supports almost 5,000 jobs right across the district.

“The Council has identified tourism growth as a key priority in its Corporate Plan and Tourism Strategy, and I very much welcome these new figures as we move forward with our ambition of becoming one of the premier tourism destinations on the Island of Ireland.”

The latest figures show that the region’s tourism attractions continued to perform strongly, with Castle Ward House and Demesne and The Saint Patrick Centre among the top attractions.  

Visitor numbers to Forest Parks continue to grow each year with Slieve Gullion Forest Park topping the list with almost 388,000 visitors being recorded in 2016, while Kilbroney Park also performed strongly.

Hotel room occupancy reached 62 per cent for the year, although room occupancy rates for other types of accommodation such as B&Bs, Guest House and Guest Accommodation was 17 per cent for the same period. 

Room occupancy for Self Catering accommodation was 43 per cent.

Over two thirds of the overnight visitors to the district in 2016 were from Northern Ireland (341,000) while 34 per cent travelled from Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, mainland Europe or from other international destinations.  

Over 1.5 million nights were spent on overnight trips in the district, which was a rise of 47 per cent year-on-year.

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