In an article written by Travel Weekly reporter Caroline Scutt, travel agents and tour operators predict a significant boost in leisure travel to Ireland, with benefits that especially will be felt "medium to long term." They believe Northern Ireland will not experience a significant jump in visitors this summer because most people already have planned their vacations.
However, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said he expects more visitors this summer from among vacationers who already were booked to other UK destinations.
According to Scutt, optimism among tourism executives is running very high -- compared with peace accords in the past that were short-lived. "The feeling is that with 85 percent of the population favoring the agreements, this accord has much more substance than previous initiatives," she said. Scutt, who has visited Ireland and Northern Ireland several times, noted that many Americans view the north as "war-torn, an image perpetuated by the media. In fact, there are no borders when it comes to the beauty of Ireland and the warmth of its people."
She recalled during her most recent visit to Belfast that "a cab driver pointed to political murals that dot the city and wished out loud for the day those would become a tourist attraction rather than a political statement. It was a very touching moment," Scutt said.
And she quoted Dennis Savage, senior vice president of CIE Tours, a major operator of vacation programs to Ireland who observed that the 42 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry, many of whom have family ties to Northern Ireland, now will have the confidence to travel there.
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