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Belfast’s political “Troubles” increasingly a tourism attraction

Business news: Belfast Chamber
The industry now accounts for nearly 5 percent of the total economy in Northern Ireland. It is a share comparable to that of the Republic of Ireland, and all the more significant given that it was non-existent a little more than a decade ago.

In 1999, Belfast had 19 hotels with 1, 100 rooms, Ure said. Today, there are 33 hotels with 3, 500 rooms. In 1999, two cruise ships stopped in the Port of Belfast. This year, 59 cruise ships carrying 110, 000 passengers are scheduled to visit.

The city and its surrounding areas has a population of about 580, 000. Among its flagship tourist destinations is the Titanic Belfast, a nine-gallery interactive museum which opened last year and has already attracted 700, 000 visitors. It pays homage to the city’s once vibrant shipbuilding industry and its most famous project, the Titanic. The SS Nomadic, the tender vessel for the Titanic, was recently restored and will open as a museum at the end of May, Ure said.

Still, reframing Belfast as a destination remains a delicate dance, not least because its charged history still bleeds into the present. That fragility was no more apparent than in December when a vote to curtail the display of the British flag on government buildings triggered weeks of violent street protests by Protestant Loyalists which carried well into the new year.

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