South Discovers North

Record numbers of people from the republic visited Northern Ireland as tourists last year, up more than 50% on pre-pandemic levels. Figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that there were more than 800,000 such trips between January and September last year.

The Open Golf Championship in Portrush in Co Antrim in 2019 helped boost the number of visitors from the republic between January and September that year to a record figure of just over 530,000.

But that was eclipsed for the same period last year, after the lifting of restrictions, with 809,172 cross-border trips, an increase of almost 53%, according to the Central Statistics Office's Household Travel Survey.

Tourism NI believes Covid restrictions on foreign travel was a factor as it encouraged people to staycation. Spending by visitors from the republic also increased sharply, up more than £66 million, or almost 70%.

While city breaks to Belfast and Derry continue to be popular, one of the trends in recent years has been the number of people engaging in outdoor tourism like walking tours, hiking and glamping.