Northern Ireland has seen the biggest mood improvement in a nationwide surge in economic confidence, with 23% more residents describing the economy in positive terms compared to six months ago, a study by Hitachi Personal Finance has found.

In December 2013 just one in 10 (10%) of people in Northern Ireland were positive but now one in three (33%) describe the economy as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, above the 31% UK average.

Confidence in the economy improved dramatically overall with one in three Brits (31%) now believing it’s ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, up from one in five (19%) in December 2013.

Tourist growth has boosted the Northern Ireland economy with overnight visitors jumping by 6% from 2012 to 2013 to beat pre-recession levels and bring £531m into the country’s economy.

Hitachi Personal Finance managing director Gerald Grimes said: “Northern Ireland has been enjoying a renaissance in its tourist trade which may in part explain this remarkable lurch away from what was one of the most pessimistic outlooks – beaten only by Wales – just six months ago.”

The Chancellor’s Budget in March upgraded growth estimates for 2014 from 2.4 per cent in December to 2.7 per cent and YouGov reported the highest level of consumer confidence reached in almost seven years in May.

Despite higher confidence in the national economy, people in Northern Ireland were marginally less likely to describe their own personal finances favourably – 44% compared to 45%t six months ago.

One in three (33%) people in Northern Ireland agreed now was a good time to buy what you want and need – 5% more than in December 2013.

The Hitachi Consumer Comfort Index surveyed 2,000 respondents in the UK between December 4th and 12th 2013 and 2,068 between May 13th and 16th 2014. Quotas were used to keep the profiles of respondents consistent. The surveys were conducted online by ResearchBods.