AN Ulster University report has revealed the Giant's Causeway helped generate £484.26m last year for the local economy.
With visitors from over 160 countries, the report found that the average spend per tourist staying in the area is £420.
The Causeway attracted over one million visitors in 2017 and the authors say benefits extended beyond the site into accommodation; food and drink; shopping and transport in the local area.
Commenting on the research findings Max Bryant, north coast general manager from the National Trust said: “This report really shines a light on the important role the Giant’s Causeway plays both economically and socially across the region.
“We are proud to be one of the main employers along the North Coast- we employ 75 full time staff and this figure increases significantly during peak season. We contribute over £1.5 million in wages to local people and remain committed to working closely with the community - in fact 80% of the craft for sale in the visitor centre is produced locally.
“Whilst domestic visitor numbers have plateaued at around 150,000, we are seeing a continuous increase in overseas visitors – the US market remains the strongest followed by the GB market, however we have experienced an increase of 292% in Chinese visitors over the past four years which has together played a significant role in boosting the contribution of tourism to the local area.
“Whilst we are really pleased with our visitor figures, we are working to deliver a strategy that mitigates against potential over tourism and as a conservation charity we remain committed to delivering a sustainable tourism offering that minimises social and environmental impacts and enhances the wellbeing of the local community.”
The research indicates that local communities value having a landscape feature and resource like the Giant’s causeway in their region and value tourism brought through the site.
However, a number of recommendations have been identified to strengthen community engagement and build on the economical and social opportunities of the site.