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Northern Ireland visitor attraction Titanic Belfast celebrated its first birthday on March 31, with official confirmation of its success in the face of a daunting set of year-one targets.

Already the number two visitor attraction in Ireland, the World’s Largest Titanic Visitor Experience was also the first visitor attraction in Northern Ireland to be rated as a five-star attraction by Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Tim Husbands, Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast is naturally delighted with what his team has achieved in just 12 months. He said: “The numbers have exceeded everyone’s expectations, particularly the National Audit projections of 290,000 visitors. We were initially set a target of 425,000 visitors and we have reached 800,000 by the completion of our first year. “This is an extremely satisfying figure for us, but it doesn’t allow for complacency. We are already looking to the challenges we will face in years two-to-five. As a team we are aiming to cement the relationship between Titanic and Belfast and build on the profile that our launch year has provided.” In addition to impressive visitor numbers, Titanic Belfast’s conferencing and banqueting facilities have reached almost double their intended target. Mr Husbands added: “We have achieved just over the 300 event mark. We have been buoyed by the amount of repeat business we have secured and by seeing that we have been the chosen destination for national and international conferences.” Along with these events, Titanic Belfast has played host to a multitude of VIP guests including HRH The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, US Senator George Mitchell, and Liu Yandong, the highest ranking female politician in China. Economic benefits What has been established in this first year is that visitors to Titanic Belfast are arriving into the city specifically to take in the experience. Mr Husbands credited the support the project has enjoyed from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Tourism Ireland and Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, for helping it attract large numbers of visitors into Northern Ireland. He added: “64% of our visitors are coming from outside of Northern Ireland, and 30% are from the Republic of Ireland, which is a route of traffic not normally so sustained. 60% of our visitors only come to Belfast because Titanic Belfast is here and the impact of this is hugely significant.” Claire Bradshaw, Head of Sales and Marketing at Titanic Belfast feels that Titanic Belfast has created a new reason to talk about Northern Ireland as a tourist destination. She said: “Until Titanic Belfast launched Northern Ireland didn’t have a world class iconic project. We have given Northern Ireland an authenticity to our tourism offering. We want to raise the standard of our tourism offering and we want the rest of the industry to follow suit.” It is estimated that visitors to Titanic Belfast contributed £27.2m in revenue to Belfast’s economy in 2012, with a wider drip down effect benefiting the rest of Northern Ireland. Belfast enjoyed a strong growth in tourism figures in 2012, with hotel occupancy levels enjoying a noticeable increase.