A University of Ulster economic and social impact report commissioned by the National Trust into the Giant’s Causeway, has revealed that the UNESCO World Heritage site helped generate £484.26 million last year for Northern Ireland and the Causeway Coast and Glens region.
Fueled by a strong increase in visitor numbers across recent years, the Giant’s Causeway which is owned and operated by the National Trust has made a significant contribution to the region. Welcoming visitors from over 160 countries from around the world, the report found that the average spend per tourist staying in the area is £420, making a tangible economic impact on businesses locally.
Recognised as Northern Ireland’s leading visitor attraction and one of the most popular on the entire island of Ireland, the site attracted over one million visitors in 2017. However, the benefits extend beyond the site, with the region profiting from tourism expenditure on accommodation; food and drink; shopping and transport in the local area.
Commenting on the research findings Max Bryant, North Coast General Manager for the National Trust said, “This report really shines a light on the important role the Giant’s Causeway plays both economically and socially across the region. We are proud to be one of the main employers along the North Coast- we employ 75 full time staff and this figure increases significantly during peak season. We contribute over £1.5 million in wages to local people and remain committed to working closely with the community – in fact 80% of the craft for sale in the visitor centre is produced locally.
“Whilst domestic visitor numbers have plateaued at around 150,000, we are seeing a continuous increase in overseas visitors – the US market remains the strongest followed by the GB market, however we have experienced an increase of 292% in Chinese visitors over the past four years which has together played a significant role in boosting the contribution of tourism to the local area.
“Whilst we are really pleased with our visitor figures, we are working to deliver a strategy that mitigates against potential over tourism and as a conservation charity we remain committed to delivering a sustainable tourism offering that minimises social and environmental impacts and enhances the wellbeing of the local community.”
The research indicates that local communities value having a landscape feature and resource like the Giant’s causeway in their region and value tourism brought through the site. However, a number of recommendations have been identified to strengthen community engagement and build on the economic and social opportunities of the site.