Northern Ireland Annual Tourism Statistics Published Today

Date published: 07 June 2018

The Statistics & Research Agency today published the 2017 Annual Tourism Statistics. These statistics provide an overall assessment of tourism activity in Northern Ireland.

Key findings

Key findings are:

  • There were an estimated 4.9 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland in 2017. This includes external visitor’s trips and domestic trips taken by local residents. Expenditure associated with these trips is estimated to be £926 million;
  • The estimated number of overnight trips to Northern Ireland by external visitors stood at 2.7 million in 2017. This is the highest estimate on record and a 3% increase on 2016;
  • Expenditure associated with overnight trips by external visitors is estimated to be £657 million in 2017, a 7% increase compared to 2016;
  • There were an estimated 2.2 million overnight trips taken by local residents in 2017. The estimated spend associated with these trips was £270 million;
  • The Giant’s Causeway was the most popular local visitor attraction last year with a reported one million visits. This is highest number of visits on record for a local visitor attraction and the first to have one million visits in a year.The second most popular local attraction was Titanic Belfast with 760,000 visits in 2017;
  • Overall hotel room occupancy was estimated to be 73% in 2017. In total, an estimated 2.1 million hotel room nights were sold in Northern Ireland in 2017; and
  • One hundred and twelve cruise ships docked at Northern Ireland ports last year, an increase from the 93 cruise ships docked in 2016 and a marked increase from 33 cruise ships in 2011.

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. UN Definition  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 Northern Ireland.   The headline tourism statistics are based on samples of households and at ports/airports. Vistor 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 +/-5%.  More detailed information on data sources and methodology can be found on the Tourism Statistics Website

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 07623974383 and your call will be returned.

5. General statistical information can be obtained from NISRA on Tel: 028 9052 9585 or by email:



Share this page

Back to top