Northern Ireland

NI tourist spending helped by Giro d'Italia and the Irish Open

Giro cyclist Image copyright NI Tourist Board
Image caption Three stages of the Giro d'Italia will be held in Northern Ireland in May

Research suggests tourist spending in NI will increase significantly over the next three years, due to events like the Giro d'Italia and the Irish Open.

A report for Barclays forecasts that by 2017, visitors will be spending £314m a year in Northern Ireland - a 33% increase on current levels.

It forecasts that spending will come mainly from visitors from the Republic of Ireland and the United States.

The Giro d'Italia starts on 9 May in Belfast.

The world's second largest cycle race will also take in the north Antrim coast and Armagh.

The Giro is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors.

It was confirmed last month that the Irish Open will be staged in Northern Ireland twice over the next three years - at Royal County Down in 2015 and the Lough Erne resort in 2017.

Adrian Doran from Barclays said: "Major sporting events in the next few years will undoubtedly attract additional visitors to Northern Ireland.

"A growing reputation within the film and TV industry and the popularity of the Titanic Visitor Centre will further help to bolster tourism and contribute to predictions for an increase in spending."

Stormont Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the research was "very encouraging".

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 extra parking spaces for bikes are being made available in Belfast next week for spectators watching the Giro d'Italia.

One thousand of the spaces will be made available at the city centre headquarters of the Department for Regional Development (DRD).

The DRD car park is being converted into a bike park for the week and staff will have to make other arrangements.

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