Belfast celebrates end of the most successful cruise season on record
Belfast Harbour has just brought to a close its busiest ever cruise season with an unprecedented 94 calls.
The number of ships calling at Belfast has grown significantly in recent years with official figures show that in 2010, 35 ships called on Belfast with 54,790 passengers, rising to 84 ships bringing 143,491passengers in 2016, a growth of 140% and 160% respectively.
Cruiseships are now worth £15m (€16.85m) a year to the Northern Ireland economy. Estimates are that this will rise to £22m by 2020, according to Claire McNeilly in the Belfast Telegraph in July.
This forecast indicates that Belfast could see passengers hit the 230,000 mark in just two years. More than 110 ships are expected to dock in the province next year.
“The substantial growth in cruiseship calls comes hot on the heels of Titanic Belfast being awarded the coveted title of World’s Leading Tourist Attraction of the year 2017,” commented Tony McAuley, associate director Belfast Harbour.
In recent years Belfast Harbour has adopted a strong sales and marketing strategy aimed at increasing cruise business with regular attendance at Seatrade Fort Lauderdale and Hamburg as well as the Cruise Europe conference sessions in Dublin and Bremen/Bremerhaven.
McAuley commented: "This strategy has yielded excellent results for the port and city. Having the opportunity to attend the excellent conference events like Cruise Europe allows us the opportunity to meet directly with the key decision-makers in the industry and put forward the case for Belfast. This year we welcomed a host of lines from right across the sector with multiple visits from Princess Cruise, Celebrity, Holland America, Cruise and Maritime and increasing numbers from the smaller, luxury and expedition lines like Silversea and Grand Circle.
“I am indebted, however, to the hard works that goes on with our many stakeholders who deliver the product on the ground such as Excursions Ireland and Hamilton Shipping who work tirelessly to deliver outstanding services to the industry.”
Next year is already shaping up to be another record breaking year for Belfast and Northern Ireland.