Derry - top of the Planet

Fireworks light up the sky over the Peace Bridge
Fireworks light up the sky over the Peace Bridge

Derry is riding the crest of an international media wave having been named fourth best city in the Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ guide 2013.

For all the right reasons the city, which endured some of the worst of the Troubles over 40 years, is now hitting international headlines across the world. From the Times of India and the Sydney Morning Herald to Sky News and ABC, the city has been receiving positive international coverage which no amount of advertising could ever achieve.

The 2013 edition of the world renowned globetrotters’ bible lists the City of Culture along with the tourism hotspots of San Francisco, Amsterdam, Hyderabad and Beijing in the world top five cities to visit.

And news outlets across the world are touting the Derry~Londonderry brand’s achievements.

British transport newspaper Metro stated: “For 40 years it was known as the birthplace of The Troubles but Londonderry has joined an elite list of the world’s best cities to visit.” It added: “After the Bloody Sunday incident in 1972, the Northern Irish city fell to the bottom of most tourists’ itinerary and was blighted by sectarian murders, riots and bombings.”

The Daily Mail reported: “It is perhaps fair to say that, for the last 40 years, Derry has not been the first name on travel wish lists . . . But next year will be the moment when Derry fully emerges onto the tourism radar – according to an influential travel guide. The city has much to offer beyond the darkness of its relatively recent past.”

Sky News reported: “For decades, Londonderry has borne witness to some of the worst atrocities in the history of Northern Ireland.” The Daily Telegraph stated that Derry was “the surprise pick in the Lonely Planet’s annual guide to the world’s top cities”.

“It was highlighted as a destination which offers the traveller something special.”

In an article published by the paper, entitled ‘36 Hours in Londonderry’, Neil Hegarty wrote: “Northern Ireland’s resurgent border town, Londonderry, lives up to its billing as the first UK City of Culture.”

He stated: “In the past even the city’s name has divided people: Derry to some, Londonderry to others, Derry-Londonderry to still more. Now it has a new tag, as bestowed by the organisers of the City of Culture celebrations: LegenDerry. It may just catch on.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of City of Culture, suggested that the city’s inclusion in the prestigious list was no surprise. “We have really risen to the challenge of the whole City of Culture opportunity 2013. I think the Lonely Planet guide must have come here and recognised that this is a really exciting time for this city and there is a great energy here.”

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin added: “For Derry to be in there with destinations such as San Francisco and Montreal is quite an achievement.”