There is no doubt that the tourism industry will take time to recover from Covid 19. International travel isn’t really an option in the short to medium term. Now, as lockdown restrictions lift locally for the summer season, there is cautious optimism that businesses can bounce back. And the big thing this year? Staycation. Exploring attractions closer to home. An opportunity for businesses to emerge strongly, as the lockdown restrictions are relaxed, and to encourage us all to think local, and Greater Newry really is the smart choice for staycations.
This is the view of Tony McKeown, CEO of Silverwood Smart Marketing. This summer will see his firm help launch a new destination company called ‘Visit Greater Newry’. The aim is to promote Newry City, South Armagh, South Down and Carlingford Lough as a combined staycation tourism offering.
Silverwood created the brand after extensive research, and Tony is a passionate voice for tourism. He gives five reasons why he thinks Greater Newry is the smart choice for staycations.
Greater Newry is ideally placed between Belfast and Dublin, and with over two million people living within an hour’s drive, you can start your holiday the same day you leave home. For visitors coming from GB, there are three major airports and three passenger ferry ports within a short commute of Greater Newry.
Newry has always played a central role in Irish history due to its location. Castles and ancient monuments reveal hidden secrets going back centuries. Walking in the footsteps of St. Patrick, centuries of Viking raids and Norman invasions, through to the Troubles and Brexit, the Border landscape is fascinating. Make your first stop, Bagenal’s Castle to start your authentic journey as it also houses a Tourist Information Centre.
One of the most impressive recent projects is the multi-million pound restoration of Killeavy Castle on the slopes of Slieve Gullion. It is now one of the most stunning hotels and grounds you will see anywhere in Ireland. With around 50 rooms, it offers the perfect romantic getaway or relaxing spa break. Places like the Canal Court Hotel and the Carrickdale are renowned for their welcome and high quality service. Flagstaff Lodge is another hotel which gets rave reviews.
A few days along the border gives a unique insight into Brexit if you want find out more. The Cross Square Hotel in Crossmaglen or the Yellow Heifer Restaurant in Camlough are two ideal stop offs when travelling through South Armagh.
If you are looking for an authentic food and drink experience, Killowen is one of Ireland’s smallest distilleries, producing Whiskey, Gin and Poitin (the legal variety!). Cooley has a distillery too and we recommend you book a tour in advance. Whitewater Brewery, near Castlewellan has a growing reputation for craft beer and importantly, a purpose built Tap House for welcoming groups of any size!
Many holidaymakers will have suffered reduced income over recent months making value for money more important than ever.
Greater Bang for Your Buck
From research pre COVID19, the average cost of an overnight stay at a 4-star hotel in Greater Newry was £120 against £220 in Dublin.
Food and drink prices are also great value. A pint of beer in Newry is on average £3.70 compared to £5.15 in Dublin.
Eating out and leisure activities like golf and outdoor pursuits are competitively priced too. Many businesses operate a euro friendly policy, some offer Euro for Pound deals to reduce any concerns over exchange rates.
Greater Newry is the perfect blend between city, coast and countryside. It is well known for retail hubs like Buttercrane and The Quays Shopping Centre in the heart of city. The Boulevard just outside Banbridge is one of Northern Ireland’s leading Outlet destinations, where you can pick up your favourite brands at discount prices. The City also has plenty of classy Independent shops such as Jack Murphy Jewellers and Cherry Pic Shoes.
Newry is well known for some great pubs, including favourites like the Bridge Bar, Brass Monkey and that more recent arrival, the quirky gin bar, Ginger Janes. The interior is a work of art.
Coffee culture is alive and well with places like Finegan and Son, Grounded and Maya Café Company getting rave reviews from city visitors. Strandfield is a vegetarian café at the southern entrance to the Cooley Peninsula. It offers an incredible dining experience in a relaxed environment and is very popular with walkers and cyclists.
At the heart of Greater Newry is Carlingford Lough, which offers one of the most scenic coastal routes on the island. The ferry service between Greenore and Greencastle creates a stunning loop drive which can include stop offs at Flagstaff Viewpoint, Omeath, Carlingford, Kilkeel, Newcastle, Cranfield Beach, Rostrevor and Warrenpoint, all in a day.
There are countless fantastic restaurants along the route including well-known names like the Whistledown Hotel in Warrenpoint, Fitzpatricks’ in Cooley and PJ O’Hare’s in Carlingford.
The region has no less than three areas of outstanding natural beauty in close proximity and numerous forest parks. For families, the Narnia Experience in Kilbroney, Giant’s Liar at Slieve Gullion, Tollymore and Castlewellan are must visit locations. Silent Valley Reservoir has been a favourite for tourists for many years and Camlough Lake is lesser known but a hidden gem in South Armagh.
Greater Newry offers so much for the active traveler. The Mournes, Cooley Mountains and Ring of Gullion are a paradise for walkers. If water sports are your thing, there are a host of options on Carlingford Lough including paddle boarding, banana boats, sailing and windsurfing. East Coast Adventure Centre in Rostrevor and Carlingford Adventure including a Sky Park have a range of activities to suit families, corporate trips and hens/stag parties.
For thrill seekers, Formula Karting has one of the largest, fastest and challenging race circuits in the world, and Rostrevor one of the leading mountain bike trails in Ireland.
Before you visit, be sure to check out if any sporting events are taking place. There are many charity fun runs, cycling events and triathlons throughout the year to suit all levels of fitness fanatics.
There are more than a dozen golf courses in the region to suit every golfers taste and budget. From the magnificent Royal County Down to hidden gems like Kilkeel and Cloverhill in South Armagh waiting to be played.
Before you plan your next staycation, consider Greater Newry, city, coast and countryside, the smart choice for staycations.
For 2020, think Destination Staycation. Time for greater imagination. Stay at home and explore Greater Newry.