Belfast Telegraph

'Weather made it for us' - tourists are beaming in sunny Belfast

Rosalind and John Handcock with Lisa, Grace, Joseph and Nigel Street in Belfast yesterday
Rosalind and John Handcock with Lisa, Grace, Joseph and Nigel Street in Belfast yesterday
A tourist boat on the Lagan yesterday
Azeem Thahir and Federica Bonsignore
Yulia Sherban with Teodorico Paucar
Renee Lau, Lee Shokyan and Wee Ling
Gemma Spence, Campbell Kerr and Kirstie Brown

By Allan Preston

From visitors stepping off the luxurious Royal Princess cruise ship to budget backpackers - tourists exploring Belfast for the first time yesterday were treated to yet another day of glorious sunshine.

Posing for a selfie beside the Big Fish sculpture by the River Lagan, tourists shared their thoughts on the city.

Nigel Street, from Stoke-on-Trent, is on a four-day visit with his family.

"We've been really impressed, we've just been around the City Hall and we're going to the Titanic Museum this afternoon," he said.

"It's been very welcoming.

"We were told on the open top bus tour there's been no government here for over 500 days - it does seem strange.

"Our typical spend for the trip between four adults and two children would be about £1,000 to £1,500 for the four days."

Lisa Street added: "The weather has made it for us, it feels very continental and like we're properly abroad.

"It is strange that there's no government, but there has been a lot of topsy turvy goings on at Stormont.

"But tourism-wise, it seems to us like it's business as usual."

John and Rosalind Hancock, who were with the Street family, were also equally impressed.

"Apart from the good luck we've had with the weather, everything seems really well organised," said John.

"We're looking forward to the Titanic Museum and the Giant's Causeway tomorrow, it's all been very easy to do and to get around.

"I've only ever been to Dublin before in Ireland on a boozy weekend when I was younger, so it's nice to come here on a family trip."

Rosalind said: "The weather's so beautiful, it has been really nice.

"There's lots of nice places to eat, Stormont was impressive to see yesterday even though I don't think anyone was in it!"

Colchester couple Azeem Thahir (28) and Federica Bonsignore (26) are in Belfast for the first time and are staying for four days.

"We're just checking out the city centre today and the Titanic Quarter," said Azeem.

"Tomorrow we're going to go on a Game of Thrones tour and visit the Giant's Causeway."

Federica said: "To me it's really about seeing the city centre as we're only here for a few days."

Neither knew that Stormont had been collapsed for so long.

"We had no idea there's no government here to be honest, we did hear all about the referendum in the south though," said Azeem.

He added: "Your overall spend depends on your hotel and lifestyle, but for a couple away for a few days I think we'd spend about £1,000."

Sally Henning, in her 60s and from Australia, had just stepped off the Royal Princess for a day visit to Belfast.

"It's interesting," she said.

"We've mainly been up where the murals are along the peace wall so I did like hearing the guides talk about that time in your history.

"It's interesting and it orientates yourself to the city.

"Now we're just going to enjoy exploring the city centre."

She added: "I was aware there's no government here, but you're not the only country in the world this happens to, if you think of Italy this week.

"Spending wise, I'm not sure, because we haven't had lunch yet. We've had morning tea and we'll have to buy a few gifts and postcards.

"I have until 8.30pm to be back on board so we'll see how the day goes."

Teodorico Paucar (30) from Peru and Yulia Sherban (36) from Ukraine both work on board the Royal Princess, and had just a few hours to take in the city.

"We've managed to see the Titanic museum, it was nice and very impressive, especially all the 3D technology," said Yulia."

Teodorico added: "We'll go for a cup of coffee and some lunch and that's all we have time for. So the museum tickets and the lunch price is all we'll get to spend."

Yulia said: "We don't know anything about the politics here if we're being honest, as we're always on the move."

Renee Lau (22) and Lee Shokyan (22) are both from Malaysia but live in Carlow. Yesterday, they made the 150-mile journey to Belfast by train to visit their friend Wee Ling (22) for two days.

Renee said: "The main purpose for us coming up is the Giant's Causeway, that's such a big draw for us and I can't wait to see it."

Lee said: "We've just arrived off the train so we haven't got started yet but we did have lunch at the famous Crown Bar."

Like most visitors, the fallout at Stormont made little impression.

Wee said: "They're not really political types, just up to enjoy themselves."

Both Renee and Lee said their budget for the mini-break was about £50 per day.

Glaswegian backpackers Gemma Spence (24), Campbell Kerr (24) and Kirstie Brown (23) are finishing off a 10-day tour of Ireland with two days in Belfast.

"We're camping just outside the city centre so we thought we'd just pop in and see what's going on," said Campbell.

"We saw the Titanic Museum but for us it was a bit too expensive to go inside and visit so we thought we'd just try to explore the city.

"We've been all over Ireland, down the west coast and up to Dublin before heading here.

"We've not seen too much of Belfast yet."

Gemma said: "I had no idea there's been no government here for so long. We're here to enjoy ourselves more than anything."

Kirstie said: "We've made it a budget trip so we're trying to stick to just spending £20 a day."

Making their way into the city centre, the group prefer not to make too many plans but their first stop is a tour of Belfast City Hall and possibly a black taxi tour.

Belfast Telegraph

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