Summer is here and people from across the country can enjoy the many attractions that we have on our doorstep, as long as we follow UK Government advice and enjoy summer safely. There are plenty of places to go and things to do to suit every budget. Here is our guide to the numerous great days out in across our region.
Holidays abroad may be off the agenda for many of us this year, but that offers a great opportunity to discover what lies on our doorstep in Northern Ireland. Tourism chiefs are asking everyone to “embrace Northern Ireland’s giant spirit” and experience it through the eyes of a tourist.
This summer presents an opportunity to check out great hotels and tourist spots that have been on the list to explore
for years. As well as the big name attractions like the Giant’s Causeway, the Titanic centre in Belfast, and the Gobbins coastal walkway, there are many other areas of great beauty and many places of great interest to visit. By planning a trip at home, you can travel at your own pace, easily pack a car up with all your necessities and even add some extra games for the kids to enjoy. You can map out and explore the incredible scenery on your travels, such as Lough Navar Forest Park in
County Fermanagh with its 10km scenic drive leading to spectacular views.
We’ve all missed our friends during lockdown but as Northern Ireland re-opens, there are now opportunities to visit friends while still social distancing.
Why not plan a holiday in conjunction with a few friends? You can travel in separate cars or meet up at different points of your trip and have a proper catch-up.
If you play golf, we have some world class courses, including Royal Portrush. For foodies, what about Taste & Tour in Belfast to take you “off the eaten track”.
They are taking bookings from July 17. Or eat in the historic walled city of Derry-Londonderry, where “A Taste of LegenDerry” was commissioned to showcase the unique food and drink offering as well as the rich culture and heritage visitors to the region can expect to experience.
How about exploring Hillsborough Castle and Garden, Castle Ward or Mount Stewart? Or check out the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail in County Fermanagh or Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh?
You have the pick of some incredible coastal views. Benone Strand in County Londonderry is an extraordinary spot.
Or check out water sports with Strangford Lough Activity Centre taking bookings now.
Why not visit the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, celebrating the village’s most famous son.
From local legends and myths, new cuisines yet to be tasted, mountains waiting to be climbed and skills yet to be learned, there are memories that you never knew you’d make here calling for you to seek them out.
The tourism industry is eager to welcome back visitors and by planning your next vacation at home, you will be playing a pivotal role in supporting local businesses, historic sites and areas of natural beauty as they implement all required measures to protect people from Covid-19.
Take time to ensure that you are in the know before you go
Summer is here and our colourful countryside, breathtaking beaches and glorious gardens beckon. Many attractions are reopening, but have restricted visitor numbers and prebooked time slots, so the UK Government recommends looking at the official websites for attractions and organisations you plan to visit before you travel, so that you’re in the know before you go. To make your days out as enjoyable as possible, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and to check all of the important facilities and attractions, while looking after our great outdoors.
To ensure we’re all doing our bit to travel responsibly, here are a few simple steps to help make planning easy. When planning your trip, check that important facilities – like toilets and car parks – are open before you travel so you’re not caught short. If you have an attraction in mind, please check online to see if you need to pre-book a time slot.
Some places may be extremely popular, so get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem that you can brag to friends about. Keep two metres apart from anyone outside your household where you can. This applies to walking, running, cycling, sitting and sunbathing too. Wear a face covering at all times when on public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs.
Make sure you have a bank card because many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments and you don’t want to miss out on that ice cream.
And take hand sanitiser with you – you don’t know where will be open for you to wash your hands.
Leave the car behind where possible and visit attractions by walking or cycling.
Please remember that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different guidelines, advice and timescales for re opening tourism.
To help you enjoy summer safely, please check the respective official sources for information prior to travelling by using the website visitbritain.com/gb/en/knowbefore-you-go
Mark that shows we are good to go in Northern Ireland
With many of our favourite attractions now beginning to reopen their doors, Tourism Northern Ireland has teamed up with VisitScotland, VisitEngland and VisitWales to come up with a way for people to check whether they are “good to go”. The We’re Good To Go initiative was developed jointly by the four UK visitor agencies. The UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark will provide a “ring of confidence” for visitors as the tourism sector works towards reopening. The We’re Good To Go mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place, ensuring they can welcome visitors back with confidence.
The scheme is free to join. UK Government tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I want to encourage the public to experience a great holiday this summer and be confident that they can do so safely.
“This new industry standard will show people that tourism businesses, destinations and attractions are adhering to the guidance.
“It puts safety first and is an important move in getting this industry back up and running.” Tourism Northern Ireland
chief executive officer John McGrillen said: “The rolling out of a UK wide industry standard and consumer mark is good news for the many tourism businesses across Northern Ireland who are gearing up to reopen their doors in the coming weeks.
“They will be putting every possible measure in place to operate safely and provide reassurance to staff and customers alike that they have complied with official health guidance.”
“We are acutely aware of the difficulties faced as the tourism sector reopens and the challenges ahead as we rebuild, however we are confident that with the right measures in place and with ongoing support, the tourism industry in Northern Ireland can regain lost ground and return to growth.
“We have been delighted to partner with the national tourism agencies in Wales, Scotland and England to create a common approach.” To obtain the mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform goodtogo.visitbritain.com/your-business-good-to-go-northern-ireland including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the We’re Good To Go mark.