Belfast is still in the top five favourite tourist destinations in one of Britain's leading travel polls. Readers of The Observer voted Belfast as their fourth favourite UK city in the newspaper's Travel Awards 2009.
The number of tourists coming to Northern Ireland has increased enormously in recent years and we are all aware of the number of foreign tourists to be seen in the streets of Belfast and indeed across the country. However we cannot afford to be complacent and there is much work to be done in developing our tourism product and then marketing that product around the world.
Cultural tourism is one of our strengths and the reopening of the Ulster Museum, Belfast City Hall and the Ulster Hall, along with other cultural developments around the country will help to strengthen our tourism product. We can also look forward to the completion of the Lyric Theatre.
This increased investment in our cultural infrastructure is good for the people of Northern Ireland but it is also good for tourists and can bring economic benefits with increased visitor numbers and increased visitor spend.