Belfast Cashing in on Titanic Tourist Development
Photo courtesy of VisitBritain
Titanic Belfast beat out European landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Colosseum to win the title of Best European Attraction at the 2016 World Travel Awards. It is the first time in the 23 year history of the awards — sometimes referred to as tourism’s version of the Oscars — that Northern Ireland has been recognized. It is also a sign that efforts to build a successful tourism industry in the region are paying off.
Recognition for a growing tourist destination
According to a spokesperson for the World Travel Awards, 228,251 travelers and travel agents voted in the European Attraction category. Being named its continent’s best attraction means that the relatively new Northern Ireland museum is shortlisted for the World’s Leading Attraction award. This honor, won by the Las Vegas Strip last year, will be announced during an event in the Maldives at the end of the year.
The museum was opened in 2012. Since then, it has had more than three million visitors, including the Queen of England.
A successful reinvention
Northern Ireland's First Minister, Arlene Foster, said that the recognition from the travel industry shows that the city and the nation deserve a spot on the world tourism map. “Titanic Belfast is now a global brand, which has put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons, so official confirmation that it is now Europe’s leading tourist attraction is well deserved.”
Plenty of other reasons to visit
Once known for its ongoing independence struggle involving the militant Irish Republican Army (IRA), Northern Ireland has been reinventing itself since the end the bloody period known as “the Troubles.” In addition to Titanic Belfast, the region has drawn tourists because it has been a major filming site for Game of Thrones and the critically acclaimed Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson series the Fall. Other attractions, such as Giant’s Causeway and Belfast’s pub scene and nightlife, have also helped the region attract a continuously increasing number of international tourists.
Brexit could also help
Brexit could increase the number of domestic tourists who visit Northern Ireland and create a favorable exchange rate that could draw even more overseas travelers. Continuing concerns about terrorism on Continental Europe could also increase interest in Northern Ireland, which has not been touched by any recent security concerns.
Titanic Belfast has already attracted an impressive number of tourists.
The nod from the World Travel Awards is evidence that Belfast’s efforts to draw more attention to itself as a tourism destination are paying off.
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