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Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway leads the way as tourist numbers soar

Victoria O'Hara,  Aug 19, 2008

The Giant’s Causeway remains the top tourist attraction in Northern Ireland, according to official figures.

The Co Antrim beauty spot was listed the number one most visited site across the province in 2007.

The list was revealed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s annual survey of visitor attractions. The figures do not include country parks and gardens.

The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre has remained the most visited attraction for the last six years.

In 2007 the top ten ranked attractions remained similar to 2006. However 2007 saw seven of the top ten attractions experience an annual increase.

A total of 712,714 visited the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre in 2007, up 29% on the previous year.

Belfast Zoological Gardens ranked second, attracting 294,935 visitors in 2007, an increase of 14%.

It was closely followed by W5 in east Belfast with 247,506 visitors, up 5% on 2006.

Belleek Pottery gained the largest increase in visitors, an impressive 46% on the 2006 level.

A jump by 20% led to the famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge being the number four top attraction with 222,613 visitors last year.

Visitors to the historic Walls of Derry also increased by 3% with 213,415 travelling to see them.

Despite a 17% drop in visitor numbers, Oxford Island National Nature Reserve still had 216,713 people travelling to see it, resulting in it being number five in the top 10 visitor attractions. It was in second place last year.

The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum also experienced a 1% drop in numbers, but still placed at number nine in the list with 168,866 visitors.

Meanwhile the Ulster American Folk Park outside Omagh was at number 10 attracting 157,325 visitors through its doors in 2007.

Alan Clarke, the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: “It’s great news that the majority of attractions in Northern Ireland experienced an increase in visits during 2007.

“This increase reflects the success of Northern Ireland’s tourism industry as a whole, with over 2.1 million visitors last year, the highest figures on record.

“We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to Northern Ireland and will strive to provide the best possible visitor experience.”

From the 2006 top ten, only the Ulster Museum, closed for renovations, and the St Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick did not make it in again.

They were replaced in the 2007 top ten by Belleek Pottery and the Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve.

In 2006, the Giant’s Causeway was number one, followed by Oxford Island, Belfast Zoo, W5, the walls of Derry, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, the Ulster American Folk Park, and the St Patrick’s Centre.

Giant's Causeway leads the way as tourist numbers soar
Giant’s Causeway /

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