Valuing the Tourism Industry in Northern Ireland

Tourism: A Force for Good

Launch of the NITA research report ‘Valuing the Tourism Industry in Northern Ireland: A broader assessment of tourism’s value to the Northern Ireland economy’.

This research aimed to unveil the true economic prowess of tourism in Northern Ireland—a hidden gem that’s been underestimated for far too long.

Thanks to Grant Thornton, we now have concrete evidence to back our belief. In 2019, things were looking up, and with the help of Grant Thornton’s economic model, we discovered that it was even better than we thought. Tourism’s total economic contribution? A staggering £3 billion. Fast forward to 2021, a year that began with the industry in lockdown. As expected, the economic numbers were lower than the peak of 2019, but at £2.3 billion, it demonstrated the industry’s resilience, adaptability, and innovative spirit as it found new ways to attract visitors and provide exceptional experiences. However, beneath these impressive figures lies a different story.

Our industry faces challenges, from rising operating costs to global competition, making it tougher for revenue increases to translate into profits. Attracting and retaining staff has become a formidable challenge, particularly exacerbated during the pandemic and with changes in migration policies. during the pandemic and with changes in migration policies. NITA and HATS (Hospitality and Skills Network) are about to release a policy paper addressing these critical issues, aiming to remove barriers to growth. While international markets (excluding GB and RoI) have yet to fully recover to 2019 levels, GB and RoI remain strong, thanks to focused promotions by Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland. To boost tourism further, we must showcase Northern Ireland’s unique offerings.

This research highlights that tourism is a wise investment, providing excellent returns. Looking ahead, this research is just the beginning. With an economic model in place, our next phase involves delving into the social impacts and how to measure them. The 10X economic vision sets ambitious targets for sustainability, innovation, and inclusivity, and tourism is an important contributor to achieving them.

Tourism in Northern Ireland isn’t just a scenic attraction; it’s an economic powerhouse, the driving force behind regional economic growth. Visitors bring more than just their presence; they bring money, fuelling local economies, and supporting diverse industries across the region.

The full report can be downloaded here.