Published on : Thursday, October 26, 2017
Lonely Planet has praised Northern Ireland’s transformation from the Troubles to a destination with memorable attractions for visitors. Once synonymous with bomb explosions, gun battles and sectarian assassinations, post-Troubles Belfast has reinvented itself as one of the top-rated tourist destinations in the world.
After a decade of regeneration and investment, Belfast and the Causeway coast have been named by Lonely Planet as the best regions to visit in 2018. Game of Thrones, George Best, the Titanic and the Troubles, which cost almost 4,000 lives, have all helped put the city and Northern Ireland on the map, with almost 110,000 tourists visiting in the past year alone. UNESCO world heritage sites such as the Giant’s Causeway and other parts of the north Antrim coast have all become globally famous because they were locations for Game of Thrones shoots.
Cashing in on football fans of a certain age group who make pilgrimages to Best’s grave, a hotel group has bought an old Victorian building just behind Belfast City Hall. It will open in 2018 as a Best-themed hotel.
Titanic Belfast – the centre located on the spot where the doomed luxury liner was launched, has also reported a 22% increase in visitors so far this year. Between April and August 2017, almost 440,000 people visited the attraction, which includes a recreation of the giant staircase leading to the luxury dining room of the Titanic.
Besides the so-called terror tours around the 30-plus walls that divide Protestant and Catholic districts, the Crumlin Road Gaol is one of the most popular Troubles attractions.
Tour guides are also reporting a spike in business.