Ireland one of Top 10 countries to visit in 2015 - Lonely Planet
Influential travel guide ranks "stunningly scenic" Ireland fifth on its list of countries to visit next year.
Ireland is "the real deal", according to Lonely Planet.
And when Lonely Planet talks, the world listens.
The influential travel guide has just ranked the country fifth on its list of the Top 10 in the world to visit in 2015 - a major boost to Ireland's recovering tourism industry.
“Ireland is stunningly scenic," according to Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 - an annual collection of trends, destinations and experiences for the year ahead, published today.
"It is the real deal... its traditions – music, dance, whiskey and beer – [are] firmly intact, and the cosmopolitan, contemporary Irish are just as friendly and welcoming as their forebears were known to be.”
Hospitality is one of Ireland's "true" qualities, according to the book:
“The Irish themselves are inevitably at the heart of the best the country has to offer. Attend a traditional music session in a small pub in County Clare. Hook up with a walking club and do a little cross-country ambling on a soft Sunday afternoon. Go surfing at Rossnowlagh Beach in County Donegal. Or just strike up a conversation over a pint with the gang sitting next to you in the pub.
"It’s these connections that will make you want to come back.”
Lonely Planet's annual lists carry huge influence in the travel industry.
Cork and Derry received widespread media coverage when they ranked among the Top 10 cities to visit in 2010 and 2013, for example, as did Kerry's Cromane Peninsula and Kavanagh's pub in Glasnevin, when they featured on Lonely Planet's 'Europe's Top 50 Secrets' this summer.
The guidebook isn't always fawning in its Irish coverage, of course.
In 2006, former Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern was among those to come to the defence of Dundalk after the town was labelled “tough, dour and charmless” in that year's edition of Lonely Planet' guide to Ireland.
Almost a decade later, however, the tone is gushing and positive:
“With the Wild Atlantic Way now fully open and a new sense of optimism surging through the country, 2015 really is the time to go to Ireland," a Lonely Planet spokesperson said.
"The country’s stunning landscape and incredible hospitality are on par with the globe’s top tourist destinations, Ireland should be on everyone’s must visit list.”
Lonely Planet's Top 10 cities for 2015 have also been announced:
1) Washington, DC, USA 2) El Chaltén, Argentina 3) Milan, Italy 4) Zermatt, Switzerland 5) Valletta, Malta 6) Plovdiv, Bulgaria 7) Salisbury, UK 8) Vienna, Austria 9) Chennai, India 10) Toronto, Canada.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 is priced at £9.99/€12.60.