Belfast and Causeway Coast take Lonely Planet top spot in 2018

A leading travel guide has named Belfast and Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast as the number one place in the world to visit in 2018.

Lonely Planet announced its annual list of must-visit destinations, with the two locations jointly sharing the prestigious top spot.

The Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2018 guide describes Belfast as "full of hip neighbourhoods that burst with bars, restaurants and venues to suit all tastes. The rusting old docklands are now the vibrant Titanic Quarter, home to fancy apartments and a sensational museum".

Meanwhile, the Causeway Coast is described as a site of "timeless beauty and high-grade distractions - golf, whiskey and some of the world's most famous rocks - are more popular now than ever."

Number two on the list is Alaska in the US, while the Julian Alps in Slovenia occupy third place.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons welcomed the accolade as "wonderful news", saying it "will surely help to inspire travellers everywhere to put Northern Ireland on their holiday wish-list for next year".

He said: "It is another well-deserved accolade, which provides Tourism Ireland with a great hook to continue to promote Belfast and the Causeway Coast around the world as a 'must visit' destination."

The number of tourists visiting Northern Ireland has repeatedly increased in recent years.

In the first three months of this year, a record one million overnight trips were taken in the region by visiting tourists. The figure represented a 6% jump from the same period in 2016.

It is expected that this figure will continue to rise due to the slump in the value of the pound.

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