Overnight trips from the Republic to Northern Ireland reached record levels in 2022, topping one million for the first time, with huge increases also evident for spend by Republic of Ireland visitors
According to figures released by the Central Statistics Office there were more than 1.1m overnight trips by visitors from the Republic to Northern Ireland in 2022, compared to 756,000 in 2019, a 51% rise.
In addition, a total of 2.6m nights were spent in Northern Ireland by visitors from the Republic in 2022, a 42% increase on the 1.9m nights in 2019.
The money spent by visitors from the Republic in Northern Ireland also saw a huge increase last year to more than £233m, up 65% on the £142m spent three years earlier.
While the number of holidays taken in Northern Ireland by visitors from the Republic rose by more than 50%, the number of travellers from the Republic who holidayed at home saw less of an increase.
David Roberts, Tourism NI Interim CEO, said; “These excellent results surpass even our most optimistic forecasts for 2022. At a time when international markets have still been recovering, the additional business from the Republic has been hugely important to the tourism and hospitality sector right across Northern Ireland. A notable feature is that visits by RoI residents to Northern Ireland grew at a much faster rate than visits within the Republic itself”.
“Sustained investment in marketing and promotion, growing the range of visitor attractions and experiences, and enhancing the accommodation offer have all played a part. Working collaboratively across the industry alongside our ‘Embrace A Giant Spirit’ brand has also been a key ingredient”.
“We know too that, whilst times are currently very challenging for both businesses and consumers, there is further growth potential in the years ahead. Building on this positive performance will be a key focus for Tourism NI and partners during 2023”.
Tourism NI analysis of online reviews further indicates a 16% increase in the number of accommodation reviews left by ROI visitors in 2022 compared to 2019.
In addition, there was also a significant increase in ROI cardholder spend in NI on key tourism-related categories in 2022 compared to 2019.
Research by Tourism NI found around half of visitors who travelled to Northern Ireland last year were first time leisure visitors and nine out of ten said their trip had matched or exceeded their expectations. Furthermore, of those who visited, more than six out of ten said they would likely make a return trip in 2023 to once again enjoy the atmosphere, food and drink and value for money in Northern Ireland.