Record 2016 as visitor bookings surpass City of Culture year

Sparks entertaining the crowd in Guildhall Square during the 2016 Halloween Celebrations. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)
Sparks entertaining the crowd in Guildhall Square during the 2016 Halloween Celebrations. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

Derry has recorded its highest ever annual hotel occupancy rates, even surpassing the level of bookings during the 2013 City of Culture year.

During 2016, a total of 161,000 rooms were sold in local hotels, a jump of 12 percent on 2015, which is equivalent to an extra 18,000 rooms.

Visit Derry General Manager Odhran Dunne.  (2701JB60)

Visit Derry General Manager Odhran Dunne. (2701JB60)

Visit Derry general manager Odhran Dunne said the past year has proved “very successful” as he confirmed that five of the months were the best performing ever - from July to October and also December.

August 2016 was the busiest month on record with an average hotel occupancy rate in Derry of 89 per cent.

The number of hotel rooms sold in 2016 was up by 10,000 (six per cent) compared to the City of Culture year in 2013.

Mr Dunne said: “This has been the best performing year for the hotel sector and these results support increased investment in the tourism sector as it offers one of the best opportunities for economic growth.”

The Visitor Information Centre in Derry recorded over 89,000 visitor enquiries - a growth of nearly 31 percent on 2015. Almost 80 percent of visitors to the centre came from overseas.

Mainland Europe accounted for over a third of enquiries, with Germany topping the list followed by France, Holland, Italy and Austria. North American enquiries rose significantly to account for 17 percent, while 16 percent were from Britain, 16 per cent from the north of Ireland, and five per cent from the south.

Mr Dunne said: “We are delighted to see growth from all our major markets including North America, Great Britain and Europe throughout 2016.

“The forecast for 2017 is generally positive with more growth expected and with the continued developments in our tourism product and events calendar in the city region over the next few years we look forward to supporting this upward trend in international visitors.”

Mr Dunne said the impact of Brexit on local tourism “continues to be of particular interest with the increasing volatility of the currency markets”.

“The devaluation of sterling has made the destination more competitive for non-domestic visitors in the short term and has made the staycation trend more appealing for the domestic and GB markets,” he said, adding:

“Visit Derry in partnership with over 260 tourism businesses from across the North West will continue to work with tour operators, travel trade and media with a strong programme of marketing activity to raise the profile of the destination in international markets.”