Northern Ireland Annual Tourism Statistics published today

Date published: 26 May 2016

The Statistics & Research Agency today published 2015 annual tourism statistics for Northern Ireland. These statistics provide an overall assessment of tourism activity last year. The key findings are:

Northern Ireland Annual Tourism Statistics published today
Northern Ireland Annual Tourism Statistics published today


  • In 2015 there were 4.5 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland. This figure includes trips to Northern Ireland of external visitors and domestic trips taken by local residents. The number of overnight trips shows no change on 2014. Expenditure associated with these trips was £760million, up 1% on 2014;
  • Last year overnight trips to Northern Ireland by external visitors stood at 2.3 million. This is the highest number on record and a 5% increase on 2014. Spend associated with these trips also grew by 5% to £541million in 2015;
  • Last year there were 17.5 million visits to local visitor attractions. This showed no change from the previous year. The most popular visitor attractions in Northern Ireland in 2015 were the Giant’s Causeway (0.851 million visits) and Titanic Belfast (0.622 million visits);
  • Hotel room occupancy stood at 67% during 2015. This was an increase of 2 percentage points from 2014. In total 1.9 million hotel room nights were sold in 2015; and
  • Last year, 67 cruise ships docked at Northern Ireland ports. This is a similar number to 2014. These ships had up to 123,000 passengers/crew on board.

Notes to editors: 

1. Headline tourist activity on overnight trips is measured against the International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics (IRTS, 2008) definition. This defines tourism by the activity of visitors.

“A visitor is someone who is making a visit to a main destination outside his/her usual environment for less than a year for any main purpose including holidays, leisure and recreation, business, health, education or other purposes, as well as visiting friends and relatives.” See UN Definition (IRTS 2008)

This definition is wider than the traditional perception of tourists, which only relates to those travelling for leisure purposes.

2. This report relates to all overnight visitors including external visitors from Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, those living outside the UK and Ireland – as well as domestic tourists within NI. The headline tourism statistics are based on samples of households and at ports/airports. Visitor numbers are measured by the Northern Ireland Passenger Survey Northern Ireland port survey) & the Republic of Ireland Survey of Overseas Travellers (Republic of Ireland port survey);the Household Travel Survey of Republic of Ireland residents; and the Northern Ireland Continuous Household Survey of Northern Ireland residents.

3. The survey based statistics will have an associated degree of sampling error. A confidence interval is used to inform users of the reliability of the estimates. The headline trip measure has a confidence interval of +/-7%. More detailed information on data sources and methodology can be found on the Tourism Statistics web site

4. For media enquiries, please contact Department for Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. General statistical information can be obtained from NISRA on Tel: 028 9052 9585 or email to



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