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One of the best big cities for a UK getaway (Which? Magazine 2022)

Hospitality and tourism

Since being voted as the number 1 region to visit in the world by Lonely Planet in 2018, Belfast has continued its meteoric rise as an increasingly popular city and short break, conference and cruise destination.

Tourism is now recognised as one of Belfast’s key success stories.

Over the last 20 years, our city’s economic, social and cultural face sectors have been transformed.  Belfast is now an international destination. This re-imagining is attributable in large measure to the city’s increasingly dynamic and burgeoning tourism industry. Multi-million pounds of investment in Belfast’s tourism infrastructure, attractions, hotels and hospitality venues has brought accolades including the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction (Titanic Belfast, 2016), and Cruise Critic’s Best Port of Call in UK and Ireland.  With a wide range of purpose-built venues and academic venues, and unique and unusual meeting and events spaces, Belfast has also been recognised as the world’s best conference and events destination at the annual C&IT Awards gala for four out of the last five years (up to  and including 2022).

Between 2016 and 2019, Belfast’s cruise market grew by 136%, bringing an increasing number of international and first-time visitors to the region and becoming a key contributor to the region’s tourism economy. Significant investment has been made in port‐side facilities, most recently with the opening of the first dedicated cruise facility on the island‐of‐Ireland at Belfast Harbour in 2019. In 2022, Belfast welcomed 141 cruise calls, and in the region of 250,000 cruise visitors, as part of a ‘Britain and Ireland’ or Northern European cruise itinerary, generating around £15m tourism spend.

1.7m overnight visits to Belfast in 2019 generated almost half a billion pounds to the city’s economy. Local hoteliers have been at the heart of Belfast’s regeneration, adding over 3,000 bed spaces between 2015 and 2017, with over 1.2m hotel rooms sold in 2022.

Tourism and Regeneration is one of the four key pillars of our ambitious 10-year £1bn Belfast Region City Deal programme of investment. Seven key projects, including the £100m landmark Belfast Stories visitor experience due to open in 2028, are all aimed at encouraging visitors to stay longer and explore more across the entire region.

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