In total, 44 cruise ships called at the city, bringing in close to 75,000 passengers and crew. The success is being put down – at least in part – to the marketing partnership between Belfast Visitor & Convention Bureau and Belfast Harbour.
“Year-on-year, we are building the cruise business, and 2012 has delivered a record number of ships to the port,” said Tony McAuley from Belfast Harbour. “Breaking the 500,000 cruise visitor barrier is a fantastic achievement and testament to the efforts of Belfast Harbour and Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau working together.
“The opening of the GBP76 million Titanic Belfast and the new Visitors Centre at Giant’s Causeway earlier this year together with the associated 2012 cultural programming and events created a focus and impact for our sales and marketing activity. Titanic is a global brand and the iconic building on the very site that the world famous luxury liner was designed, built and launched has had significant impact on our marketing activities and attracting international visitors to Belfast.”
In total 17 cruise lines now call at Belfast – including ships like the 3,500-passenger Emerald Princess and the 900-passenger Amadea, which is the final call of this season.
“Cruise travel globally is one of the fastest growing and highly competitive areas of tourism and the record-breaking cruise ship numbers arriving in Belfast is testament to the city’s tourism success,” said Anne McMullan from BVCB. “Already we have over 50 ships scheduled for 2013, bringing over 100,000 visitors to the city, this also coincides with the year that Belfast hosts the World Police and Fire Games which will bring an estimated 25,000 visitors to Belfast.
“Cruise ships are now a vital part of our tourism mix and a visible measure of Cruise Belfast’s success in attracting cruise ship business to Belfast. We are now competing effectively among other European destinations, demonstrating that the billion pound investment made in the city’s tourism infrastructure, improving the experience for residents and visitors alike, and attracting world class events, is now paying off.”