Visitor numbers to the Newry, Mourne and Down area have hit a high according to the latest tourism figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Local festivals like Newry Drama Festival, Newry Feis, Iúr Cinn Fleadh, Newry Water Festival and Twilight Markets have all contributed to increased numbers of visitors in the Newry area.

The number of overnight trips to the district reached 571,400 in the figures for 2016, which represented a 41% increase on the previous year. The revenue generated by tourism for the local economy reached £61 million, showing a huge 27% increase year-on-year.

Festivals like the annual Iúr Cinn Fleadh in Newry have contributed to a sharp rise in visitors to Newry and the Newry, Mourne and Down Area. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Festivals like the annual Iúr Cinn Fleadh in Newry have contributed to a sharp rise in visitors to Newry and the Newry, Mourne and Down Area. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew welcomed the increase in visitors and said, “The latest tourism statistics really demonstrate the importance of this vibrant industry to our local economy. Tourism generates huge levels of new revenue and supports almost 5,000 jobs right across the district.”

Councillor Mulgrew continued, “The Council has identified tourism growth as a key priority in its Corporate Plan and Tourism Strategy, and I very much welcome these new figures as we move forward with our ambition of becoming one of the premier tourism destinations on the Island of Ireland.”

Visitor numbers to Forest Parks continue to grow each year, with Slieve Gullion Forest Park topping the list with almost 388,000 visitors being recorded in 2016.

Hotel room occupancy reached 62% for the year, although room occupancy rates for other types of accommodation such as B&Bs, Guest House and Guest Accommodation was 17% for the same period. Room occupancy for Self Catering accommodation was 43%.

Over two thirds of the overnight visitors to the district in 2016 came from the province with a third from all other destinations.