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Northern Ireland named cheapest UK destination for staycations

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Slieve Gullion Forest Park

Slieve Gullion Forest Park

Slieve Gullion Forest Park

If you’re planning a budget-friendly staycation this summer then there’s no need to travel too far as Northern Ireland has been named as the UK’s cheapest destination.

Consumer spending experts money.co.uk identified the province as the most budget-friendly in its 2020 Safecation Report, which highlights the top locations in the UK for a socially distanced holiday.

Around 60 countries were listed by the Executive where people can visit and do not need to self-isolate on their return earlier this week.

However, nearly two-thirds of people in the UK (64%) stated they would not feel safe travelling by plane, according to YouGov.

The findings in the money.co.uk report included contactless payment availability, free activities, dog friendliness, the number of beaches and caravan parks within a 50km radius, crime rate for April 2020, visitors per year to the county, park entry fee and car parking charges.

When it comes to budgeting your staycation, Co Armagh came out on top for the cheapest holiday destination with Slieve Gullion Forest Park offering plenty of free activities for all the family.

With no admission fee or car parking charges at the site, Slieve Gullion is the perfect spot for an open space day out with its walking trails, adventure play park and Giant’s Lair children’s story trail.

In fact, the forest park could accommodate 1,759,035 visitors, while all maintaining a one metre distance.

Armagh city also took fourth position in the report out of 25 best new destinations for a socially distant safecation.

Meanwhile, Antrim was placed 14th on the list as the county has fewer visitors per year compared to Armagh.

Glenariff Forest Park offers a huge open space for visitors to enjoy. However, Antrim scored lower than Armagh on budget-friendly options, the number of beaches and dog friendliness.

Salman Haqqi, money.co.uk’s consumer spending expert, explained that while strict social distancing measures have been put in place at tourist spots, adhering to the guidelines could prove troublesome.

“Campsites, holiday parks and hotels all over the nation are ready and waiting to welcome guests back, but even with strict social distancing guidelines in place, overcrowding can still be a problem in tourist honeypots,” said Mr Haqqi.

“Our report shows that a destination like Glasgow can only host around 8% of the usual annual visitors to the area taking one metre social distancing into account, whereas there is plenty of space for everyone in Gower.

“It’s not just wide-open spaces that need to be considered when booking, the report found that 52% of the new destinations had contactless payment options available for parking, food and drinks, shopping and leisure activities.”

The top 50 destinations in the report also includes Motherwell, Windsor, Isle of Harris, Durham, Paisley, Devon, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Isle of Wight, London, Brighton and The Cotswolds.

Belfast Telegraph