NEW YORK -- After the recent abatement of three decades of
sectarian violence, Belfast is "a city coming out of the doldrums
... and tourism is a direct link to growing prosperity," according
to Belfast Lord Mayor Martin Morgan.
In an address at the Sky Club here Tuesday, Morgan cited the
growing importance of tourism --including 10 cruises this year --
to the economy.
Belfast's visitor numbers jump 22% in 2002 compared with the
previous year. Local authorities said that jump is just the
And for 2003, the city predicts 36% growth in arrivals over last
year. That comes as there has been up to $900 million in recent
Morgan's remarks came as top political and tourism figures from
Belfast visited the Big Apple this week to promote burgeoning U.S.
travel to the up-and-coming destination.
Gerry Lennon, CEO of the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau,
said in 1994, the city had only 900 hotel beds, serving between
150,000 and 200,000 mostly business visitors who spent $48
By last year, Belfast boasted 3,000 hotel rooms and hosted
700,000 visitors who spent "hundreds of millions of dollars,"
Lennon hopes to position Belfast -- "the last undiscovered part
of Ireland"-- as a short-break and conference destination for
travelers from North America, Belfast's third-largest source
Key to that effort would be the restoration of nonstop flights
from the U.S., suspended after 9/11; Belfast is, in theory, a
6-hour flight from Boston. For more on Belfast, visit www.gotobelfast.com.
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].