BY TIM HEDGLEY, TRAVEL EDITOR
TITANIC Belfast is on target to welcome its 100,000th visitor from North America as it prepares to celebrate its second year as Northern Ireland’s top visitor attraction.
Tourists from the United States and Canada make up the third biggest percentage – outside UK and Ireland – of visitors to Titanic Belfast, located where RMS Titanic was built in Belfast’s shipyard more than 100 years ago.
North American visitors to Titanic Belfast since the attraction opened on March 31, 2012, have made up almost 8% of overall tourists, who have flocked from 148 counties to enjoy the world’s largest Titanic experience.
Among that North American percentage there have been high-profile guests such as TITANIC movie director James Cameron and producer John Landau, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Senator George Mitchell, and President Obama’s US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney.
James Cameron chose Titanic Belfast for the global launch of his blockbuster movie on Blu-ray and 3D, describing the attraction as ‘amazing’ and ‘dramatic’.
US Consul General in Northern Ireland, Gregory Burton, said: “Those involved in the development of Titanic Belfast have delivered a world-class visitor attraction that brilliantly showcases Belfast’s proud industrial heritage.
“People from every generation across the United States are captivated by the Titanic story, and those who have visited Titanic Belfast have been overwhelmingly impressed at how its legacy is portrayed.
The appeal of the attraction has contributed greatly to the on-going rejuvenation of the Titanic Quarter as well as the growing popularity of Belfast as a tourist destination, and we wish it continued success.”
Titanic Belfast has also been a major hit with US and Canadian media groups including Canada AM, Fox News, NBC, The Discovery Channel and CBC.
With increased business from tour operators in 2013, new operators are expected in 2014 to join the likes of CIE, Sceptre Tours, Celtic Journeys and Isle Inn Tours.
On New Year’s Day 2014, the marching band from the Home Stead High School in Milwaukee, USA, will troop through the Titanic Belfast exhibition during a day-trip from Dublin, while another marching band from La Canada High School in California, will perform during their visit on March 15. In September 2012, Canadian Lynda Price, a grand-child of a Belfast shipyard worker, was Titanic Belfast’s 500,000th visitor.
Titanic Belfast CEO, Tim Husbands, said: “The popularity of Titanic in the United States and Canada knows no bounds. The story has very strong links with North America, and people from the US and Canada are coming to Belfast to visit the birthplace of the great liner, thus completing the circle of this fascinating and enduring story.”