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Northern Ireland’s ascent as a must-visit tourism destination

A push towards green tourism and an unprecedented wave of international investment is reinvigorating Northern Ireland’s tourism industry

Erne Water Taxi, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

In the last few years, a number of major investments in Northern Ireland’s hotel stock has added more luxury options for visitors to this small region.

In a story worthy of a Hollywood movie, Mick Boyle, a highly successful Australian businessman, made a family visit to the place of his birth in County Armagh and decided to purchase a derelict ruin, Killeavy Castle. He then transformed it into a 4-star hotel which sits in 365 acres in the stunning Ring of Gullion.

The Slieve Donard in Newcastle, located beside one of the island’s, and indeed the world’s, top golf courses, Royal County Down, recently got a multi-million-pound refurbishment. Now part of the Marine & Lawn Group, its interior has been transformed into opulent elegance that reflects its 125-year history.

New 5-star accommodation is set to open this summer alongside another top golf course, Royal Portrush, on the beautiful Causeway Coast. American investors are developing the luxury Dunluce Lodge in advance of The Open which will be played at Royal Portrush in 2025. And just up the road in Portrush, the Adelphi hotel is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment and will re-open later this year and part of the Marine & Lawn portfolio.

Killeavy Castle Estate, Killeavy, Co. Armagh

Many other international investors are developing properties across Northern Ireland including new builds in Belfast city center and at its famous Titanic Quarter. Matched by local investment, this is creating much more choice for visitors seeking top-notch accommodation and luxury extras.

Northern Ireland has also embraced the global trend towards sustainable tourism experiences. As visitors increasingly seek out unique, sustainable experiences that allow them to discover the region’s hidden gems, engage with local culture, and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings, new tourism businesses are stepping up to meet the demand.

These include a wealth of artisan food producers, lots of green accommodation providers and a myriad of outdoor experiences.

In County Fermanagh, Erne Water Taxi offers an eco-friendly way to explore Lough Erne’s gorgeous lake lands, combining nature immersion with cultural storytelling. Hiking, biking and kayaking opportunities abound in the region’s many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while in County Tyrone, OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory in Davagh Forest is dedicated to reducing light pollution and providing a unique stargazing experience.

Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, Co. Down lead

And with a vision to transition to an inclusive, zero-emissions, climate-resilient economy, Belfast was ranked eighth in the world in the 2022 Global Destinations Sustainability Index.

Northern Ireland is set to forge ahead with new investment and further develop sustainable tourism, ensuring that the region becomes a leading destination for eco-conscious travelers.