Derry tourism increase

The total number of visitors to Derry rose dramatically in 2011 the Journal can reveal.

The latest figures from the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau show that overall visitors to its centre in Foyle Street increased by 18% from 2010 to 2011.

One leading tour operator in the city also revealed that his business had risen by 20%.

Interestingly most markets reported between 28% and 34% growth in visitors to the city however the Northern Irish domestic market grew by 11%.

Catherine O’Connor CEO of the DVCB, said: “Naturally we’re delighted at the 2011 figures.

“We realised the impact made by the 2013 announcement earlier in the year and we hope that will have a greater impact as we approach the run into and the launch of the City of Culture 2013 programme.

“As more details on the content of the programme are released more people will book and visit the city.”

Commenting on the large increase on those travelling from the North American market, Ms. O’Connor said: “North America is always a strong market for us but the growth in business is testament to the working relationship beteween ourselves and the tour operators there.

“That and the fact we offer a great service, we’ve a great product here.”

The clear hope is that those numbers will continue to grow as Derry approaches the City of Culture year. Tour operator Martin McCrossan welcomed the figures adding; “While those participating on tours is up 20% I would have to stress that profits are not up by the same. To be up 20% in a recession is brilliant news.

“You wouldn’t believe it but it shows how hard those in the industry are working on the ground. There are a number of large offers locally with discounts of up to 50%.

“I think the city offers tourists the best value anywhere on Ireland. I also think the work of the Northern Irish Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland should be credited.

“They have contributed a significant budget to the city with their ‘Stay at Home campaign.’

“We are very, very confident that 2013 will be a great year for not only tour operators but all of the city.”