Titanic Belfast sustains €18.9m Covid-19 revenue hit

Titanic Museum in Belfast. Photograph by William McGivern

Gordon Deegan

Revenues plummeted by 92pc, or £15.8m (€18.9m), at the operator of one of the island’s most popular visitor attractions, Titanic Belfast, last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

New accounts filed by Titanic Belfast Ltd with Companies House in the UK show that the company recorded pre-tax losses of £1.35m in the 12 months to the end of March last year.

The pre-tax loss of £1.35m followed a pre-tax profit of £3.48m in the prior year.

The firm swung into the red as revenues declined from £17.19m to £1.3m last year.

Pre-tax losses would have been far greater but for ‘other operating income’ of £3.51m Titanic Belfast received that included £3.35m in Covid-19 UK Government grant income.

The visitor attraction celebrates Belfast as the birth-place of the ill-fated Titanic and the directors state that due to the pandemic, Titanic Belfast was closed during most of the financial year and only traded in August, September, October and four days in December 2020.

Directors state that total visitor numbers to the exhibition and events amounted to 68,923 which was only 8pc of the visitor numbers for the prior year.

When open during the Covid-19 pandemic, Titanic Belfast sustained a 70pc decrease in visitor numbers “given the lack of international visitors”.

The accounts were only approved on March 31 this year and the directors state that at the time of approval of the financial statements “whilst the company’s visitor numbers and turnover have been recovering, the company continues to operate at a reduced level”.

The centre opened in March 2012 after an investment made by Donegal man Pat Doherty.

During last year, numbers employed reduced by 165 from 292 to 127 and staff costs reduced from £4.36m to £2.24m.

The firm’s cash funds during the year reduced from £2.18m to £902,017 and the directors state that the firm has been using extensive cash reserves and has availed of the Government’s furlough scheme to sustain the business through this difficult period.

The directors state that Titanic Belfast is in a strong position to take advantage of the expected tourism recovery “having gone through an extensive restructure to operate as efficiently as possible”.

"It is expected that the trading environment will improve as we progress through 2022 thereby increasing the footfall through the exhibition and revenues from ticketing, catering and retail,” they said.