Results from a survey of leisure visitors across Northern Ireland, commissioned by Tourism NI, show that 97% of respondents believed that the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area met or exceeded expectations. 

Enjoying the beautiful scenery and landscapes was a key reason for visiting the area, which proved to be particularly popular with couples and families.

Visitors rated the range of outdoor activities in Newry, Mourne and Down very favourably, scoring an impressive 8.11 (out of ten). The most popular attractions were Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Newcastle Promenade, Castle Ward, Silent Valley and St Patrick’s Grave & Down Cathedral. 

Slieve Gullion. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Slieve Gullion. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

The accommodation provision was also rated highly, with the quality of the accommodation and the professionalism of the service scoring strongly.

The friendliness of staff and local people was a key finding. Friendliness of staff at visitor attractions scored 8.44 (out of ten), with staff at eating establishments receiving 8.20 and accommodation staff scoring 8.87.

Launching the survey results, Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA said “The tourism sector within Northern Ireland is in a strong position, as these survey results demonstrate. Our friendly welcome, along with excellent attractions, food, customer service and accommodation continues to win fans both at home and abroad. Statistics continue to show that our increasing numbers of external visitors are spending more and the positive experiences evidenced in the Visitor Attitude Survey play a large part in this success. Tourism is a vitally important sector to our economy, helping to drive economic growth and supporting jobs throughout Northern Ireland. As Economy Minister I intend to build on the good work being done by continuing to develop local tourism as an export business, helping to contribute to balanced regional growth and job creation.” 

Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen said “These results are a boost for the local industry as Newry, Mourne and Down’s unique visitor attractions clearly resonate with visitors. It was also a consistent theme across Northern Ireland that our people greatly enhance the visitor experience. 

“The welcome that people receive in our hotels, guesthouses, pubs, taxis, restaurants, cafes and shops also helps to ensure that people who come here to visit want to return or to advise others to visit and experience Northern Ireland for themselves” said Mr. McGrillen.

Findings from Tourism NI’s most recent Industry Barometer suggest that Northern Ireland tourism businesses generally have an optimistic outlook for 2020.

For more information about the Visitor Attitude Survey, please visit

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