A new report has found that cross-border tourism between Ireland and Northern Ireland more than tripled in the decade between 2013 and 2023. 

The report, produced by Ulster University in collaboration with DCU, found that the number of cross-border trips undertaken by people in Ireland increased dramatically over the decade. 

In 2013, for example, there was an average of fewer than 100,000 cross-border trips made per quarter. By 2023, that average had risen above 300,000. 

The report additionally found that Ireland had 4.6 times more international visitors than Northern Ireland in 2019, with international visitors likely to spend more time in Ireland than in the North. 

As a result, expenditure from international tourism in Ireland stood at over €4.8 billion in 2019, a whopping 7.6 times higher than Northern Ireland's total of €672 million. 

Within-state tourism in Ireland almost doubled in the decade from 2011, jumping from 6.5 million trips a year to over 11 million. In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, within-state tourism remained static throughout the decade, hovering at around two million per year. 

The report found that Northern Ireland has a lower starting point for tourism growth and development than Ireland due to the legacy of conflict in the region, but the report also stated that continued cross-border cooperation has the potential to unlock long-term growth across the island. 

The study found that Northern Ireland could benefit from emergency capacity constraints in Ireland and attract visitors who may not be able to find accommodation south of the border. 

Ana Desmond, Senior Economist at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, said the study demonstrated that the tourism sector across the island of Ireland has shown "remarkable growth" in recent years. 

"This research has shown how the international and domestic visitor market has both grown and diversified with recent significant findings including the sharp and sustained increase in domestic cross-border visits to NI since the Covid-19 pandemic," Desmond said in a statement. 

"Tourism growth and development is a natural area for cooperation across the island and has been ongoing for many years. The sector has demonstrated that it can adapt to external challenges and recover strongly." 

Professor John Doyle, Vice President for Research at Dublin City University, described the analysis as "very welcome". 

"It highlights a real opportunity for economic growth, for businesses to grow their income and profitability, and for better wages in the sector. Cooperation will benefit both parts of the island, but given the more developed tourism industry in the Republic, it should benefit Northern Ireland to a much greater extent," Doyle said. 

"In order to close the gap with the Republic, public policy needs to move beyond the current levels of cooperation, to build a single tourism offering, in marketing, visa-requirements, tax and regional development policy, and, perhaps most crucially, in the perception of the visitor."