Northern Ireland glamping tourism set to take off with 10 new applications
Glamping tourism in Northern Ireland is on the rise, with 10 proposals put forward this year alone for the "glamorous camping" facilities.
And the 'alternative accommodation' sector has only just begun to realise its potential, businesses have said.
According to the Department for Infrastructure, there were 10 applications for glamping pods - which can sleep a group of people - around the province this year.
There are plans for five in Dickeystown in Glenarm, while Carrowmena Activity Centre in Limavady has applied to add to its existing facilities.
Out of the 10 applications, eight are waiting for a decision, one was refused consent, while a facility located in Glenarm, Co Antrim, was given the green light to install the pods on the site of a disused quarry.
Just last week the popular Streamvale Open Farm attraction in the Castlereagh Hills applied to create 20 pods as well as a glamping reception pod at its site.
David Maxwell, chief operating officer at Intupod - an NI-based producer of glamping pods - and founder of further.space, the booking company for glamping holidays, said Northern Ireland is starting to catch up on England and Scotland in this respect.
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"I believe glamping has really to kick off here," he said.
He added further.space's appeal is offering pods in locations "off the beaten track" which are run by the firm and owners of the fields.
It's a business setup that Mr Maxwell believes has huge potential for both parties.
"We hand-pick our locations that allow guests to disconnect from day-to-day life," he said.
"They are from our landowner network and are places that the public otherwise wouldn't have access to. They have beautiful views, they are close to things that are important to life and they feature a good pod and a host with the best local knowledge."
He said future.space is appealing to landowners to join the glamping craze. "We supply five pods at £35,000 each. We de-risk what is a micro tourism business for the landowner," he added.
Among its past applications is a site in Glenarm, which will open on July 12 to coincide with the town's festival. It also has its sights set on glamping sites in Portaferry, Ballycastle and Downpatrick among others.
"There were 270m overnight stays in the UK and Ireland last year and 37% were in alternative accommodation and there is further suggestion it will grow 4-5% this year," Mr Maxwell said.