The new Titanic centre in Belfast has already received 35,000 pre-orders for tours, leaving room for the number to expand even more with 100 days to go until the the centre’s grand opening.
The centre, which will be Northern Ireland’s largest tourist project, is a visitors centre dedicated to the ill-fated Titanic which was built in Belfast.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the centre is designed to mimic the original design of the hull of the Titanic liner. It’s composed of 3,000 aluminum panels, and is located on the spot where the Titanic was first put into the water in Belfast in 1911.
The centre will hold its grand opening two weeks prior to the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which claimed the lives of 1,500 passengers in April 1912. Claire Bradshaw, head of sales and marketing at Titanic Belfast, said that there are daily inquiries into group bookings to attend the centre, and a huge surge in interest over the past few months.
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This piqued interest coincides with concerns from the Northern Ireland Audit Office about whether the centre will be sustainable in the long-term. The Office worries that the centre will not be able to maintain sales.
Bradshaw, however, shows that it’s easy to remain optimistic with such heightened interest prior to the opening. "Interest in Titanic Belfast has been building steadily for years now, but there has been a massive surge in recent months, with enquiries and group bookings from across the world arriving with us on a daily basis.” She goes on to say that alongside the 35,000 pre-booked tours, there are “100 event bookings at the Titanic Suite.”
“Belfast can finally begin to reclaim its place at the centre of one of the most captivating global stories in history,” said Bradshaw of the upcoming opening of the centre.
Here, Louise Patten, granddaughter of the ship's second officer Charles Lightoller, discusses with the BBC why she believes the overwhelming interest in story of the Titanic endures even 100 years on.