Northern Ireland

Belfast set for record cruise ship visits

cruise
Image caption A record 88 cruise liners are due to visit Belfast this year

A record 88 cruise ships are scheduled to visit Belfast this year - almost double the traffic of five years ago.

The increase underlines the city's growing appeal, say tourism officials.

The liners will bring 150,000 passengers and crew, mostly from the UK, Europe and North America.

Last year Belfast hosted 81 ships.

Belfast Harbour intends to spend about £14m on a new cruise docking facility at Airport Road West.

A planning application was submitted last year but has not yet progressed.

The facility would have the advantage of being able to handle much larger cruise ships than those that have visited since the first cruise ship docked in the city in 1996.

"When we started pitching Belfast to cruise operators in the mid-1990s there was some scepticism about what could be achieved," said Belfast Harbour's commercial director, Joe O'Neill.

"This year we are welcoming a record number of visitors and vessels."

August will be the busiest cruise tourism month, with 24 calls: By the end of the year, almost 600 will have docked in the city.

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