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Belfast is one of the world’s top 12 tourist sights

By Ashleigh McDonald

Belfast has been named as one of 12 top tourist destinations to visit in 2009 by a travel guide publisher.

Northern Ireland’s capital city is the only area in the UK to feature in Frommer’s top places to visit in the coming year.

The tour guide publisher said that in little more than a decade Belfast has been “transformed from a fractured city into a hot city-break destination moving fast towards its 19th century accolade of the Paris of the north.”

Praising Belfast’s landmarks, Frommer’s said: “The army checkpoints that encircled the city centre during the troubles are a thing of the past.

“Today you can amble along the Golden Mile for relaxed drinks or enjoy Irish music in the Cathedral Quarter bars.”

Belfast joins destinations such as Cape Town, Cambodia, Berlin, Waiheke Island in New Zealand and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada as the top places recommended to visit in 2009.

Former Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said that while the latest tourist accolade for the city was “tremendous”, he said he “wasn’t surprised” as Belfast had so much to offer tourists.

The UUP politician said: “This shows just how much progress Belfast has made — and there’s much more progress to come.

“Belfast is now amongst the top tourist destinations in Europe and we have so many attractions to offer guests.

“The Continental Market, which closed at the weekend, was a huge success and we also have tremendous nightlife, fabulous hotels and superb shopping centres.

“Belfast is becoming a must-see place.

“I have spoken to many visitors over the past few years and local people who have had friends or relatives visiting Belfast for the first time and the feedback is always very positive.

“Belfast is ticking all the right boxes and its wonderful to see that despite the current credit crunch, Belfast is going from strength to strength.”

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