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A new £15 million cruise ship terminal at Belfast Harbour is one step closer to being a reality as a planning application – submitted last year for a “multi-purpose facility for berthing of cruise ships” – is scheduled to be discussed by Belfast City Council next week…

A decision will then be made by the Department for Infrastructure.

Almost 90 cruise ships visited Belfast this summer. Bringing with them 150,000 passengers and crew, the landmark figure marks a new high for tourism in the Province.

Belfast’s record cruise schedule for 2017 marked an unprecedented period of growth for tourism and investment in Belfast which has underlined the city’s soaring appeal among cruise tourists from around the world but particularly the UK, Europe and North American markets.

Belfast has firmly established itself as a destination of choice for cruise operators and visitors, becoming the second busiest port of call in Ireland and once again attracting more cruise passengers than Liverpool in 2017.

Delivered by Cruise Belfast partners Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast since 1999, cruise tourism has been a major city success story. It is also an increasingly important part of the city’s tourism mix, along with city breaks and business tourism.

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s Commercial Director, said: “To welcome 88 ships this year is a tremendous endorsement of the great strides which Northern Ireland has made in recent years.

“When we started pitching Belfast to cruise operators in the mid-1990s there was some scepticism about what could be achieved. This year, we’re welcoming a record number of visitors and vessels, including the 100th visit of a Princess Cruise ship, one of the best-regarded operators in the sector.”

August will be the busiest month for cruise tourism this year, with 24 ship calls, including nine in just one week.

Visit Belfast, Chief Executive, Gerry Lennon, said: “Through Cruise Belfast, we are delighted to report continued growth for an important part of our tourism offer which delivers an international footfall for the city and Northern Ireland and increased spend across our exciting and unique visitor attractions, as well as our thriving hospitality and retail sector.

“Cruise is a highly-competitive and fast-growing global sector, so we work hard to entice operators and tourists here through a focused sales and marketing approach and by delivering a first-class welcome and visitor service when each cruise passenger or crew member comes ashore to this great city.”

Luxury liners are worth £15m a year to the local economy.

You can view the full cruise schedule on the Belfast Harbour website.