Peace Bridge is number one tourist attraction in NI

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The Peace Bridge in Londonderry is now the number one visitor attraction in Northern Ireland, in terms of the sheer number of visitors.

More people have visited the Peace Bridge than the Giant’s Causeway, Titanic Belfast, Belfast Zoo or any other visitor attraction, according to the Northern Ireland Visitor Attraction Survey.

The figures were released by Finance Minister Simon Hamilton in response to a query from East Londonderry MLA Gregory Campbell.

Mr Campbell asked: “What were the ten most frequented visitor attractions in 2013; and what was the change in visitor numbers for each facility?”

The Finance Minister replied: “Visitor numbers to visitor attractions are collected by the Northern Ireland Visitor Attraction Survey. This is a voluntary survey and the findings are thus based solely on the respondents choosing to participate.”

The Minister provided two sets of figures, one of which showed the top ten visitor attractions excluding parks, forests, gardens etc and the other which showed the top ten country parks, forests and gardens.

No entry, from either list, attracted more visitors than the Peace Bridge in Londonderry with 1,200,000 visitors during 2013 - a rise of 31 per cent from the previous year’s total of 914,739.

Ilex’s Chief Executive, Mel Higgins, said that the impact of the Peace Bridge has exceeded all expectations and pointed to the “countless accolades” it has been awarded.

Mr Higgins said: “Since it opened in June 2011, the Peace Bridge has clocked up almost 3.5 million crossings, over one million in 2014 alone.

“In a relatively short time, it has become a landmark for the city and region and its impact has exceeded all expectation. Loved by locals and visitors alike, the bridge has been awarded countless accolades for architecture, engineering excellence, and its ability to bring communities together. In the run up to Christmas, bridge crossings will continue to rise with LegenDerry on Ice and the Christmas Village at Ebrington, attracting families from near and far for the festive season.”

The top 15 tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, according to the survey, are as follows:

Total visitors for 2013

1: Peace Bridge - 1.2 million

2: Lagan Valley Regional Park - 1.1 million

3: Giant’s Causeway - 753,929

4: Titanic Belfast - 604,385

5: Lurgan Park - 442,874

6: Ulster Museum - 416,028

7: Derry’s Walls - 410,870

8: Murlough National Nature Reserve - 385,425

9: Roe Valley Country Park - 300,000

10: Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park - 300,000

11: W5 - 296,937

12: Pickie Fun Park - 274,513

13: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge - 263,000

14: Delamount Country Park - 246,823

15: Belfast Zoological Gardens - 235,986