Strong euro encourages holidays at home
In the current economic climate, foreign summer holidays are a luxury many cannot afford while others would prefer to save their cash for a rainy day.
Holiday bargains are also thin on the ground and the weakness of sterling versus euro is not exactly enticing.
Gone are the days when a pound bought you €1.40, today it is closer to €1.15.
So instead of holidays in the eurozone, many families from Northern Ireland have this year been forced to look at alternatives such as holidaying at home.
The benefits include not having to pay out for airfares including taxes and fuel surcharges and you don’t have to get any money changed thus saving on poor exchange rates and commission charges.
There are also spin-offs for the local economy.
Instead of lining the coffers of the Costas or the Canaries, places like Belfast, Fermanagh and the Antrim Coast receive a financial boost.
It’s hard to beat getting away from it all for a week in a climate blessed with good weather but holidaying at home can also be a wonderful experience.
Taking time to explore the sights of Belfast, which so many workers dash by Monday to Friday on their way to meetings and then understandably miss at the weekend when they escape the pressures of the city, can be an unexpected joy.
Everyone in the province should take the time, even just for a day, to see Northern Ireland through the eyes of a visiting tourist.
Highly recommended activities include St George’s Market on a Saturday, the aroma, banter and charming atmosphere are infectious. Then take a stroll along the River Lagan walkway and Custom House Square, which have been transformed into open space that rivals any European city.
Take a step back in time on a Titanic Boat tour, which will leave you proud of our unique heritage.
Finally hop on an open top bus to see the capital through the eyes of the millions of visitors who flock to our shores every year.
There is of course a string of possibilities and locations!
It will make you realise that we may be in a recession but Northern Ireland has come a very long way in just a few years and its true tourism potential has yet to be unlocked.