It could be a surprisingly good year for tourism to Northern Ireland, said Sir Reg Empey, minister for trade, enterprise and the economy.
Empey said that foot-and-mouth disease and the Sept. 11 attacks had not had as major an impact as had been expected. He expects 1.7 million visitors in 2002, a similar number to 2000.
Overall, visitor revenue would be up by 4 percent, he predicted.
Empey was speaking at the opening of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s 12th annual tourism marketing workshop at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on Friday.
“Northern Ireland is welcoming over 170 tour companies from 23 countries who are here to meet with more than 200 delegates from the Northern Ireland tourism trade,” he said.
“They are finding out about Northern Ireland’s best-kept secret and, hopefully, when they return home they will become ambassadors for our tourist industry and spread the word about the quality of our product and the variety of activities we have to offer international travelers.”
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Empey said that he was pleased that visitors from Scandinavia made up the fastest-growing group of tourists, up 50 percent on previous years.