Northern Ireland is 'world's number one region to visit' says Lonely Planet
Belfast and the coast around Giant's Causeway has been ranked the number one region to visit in the world in 2018 by Lonely Planet.
The city is "full of hip neighbourhoods that burst with bars, restaurants and venues to suit all taste", according to the leading travel guide, which adds that the coastline has "timeless beauty" and "high-grade distractions" such as golf, whiskey and famous rocks.
Mr Smart said: "Belfast and the Causeway Coast topped our list of the top 10 regions because it is deservedly now recognised as a must-visit destination by travellers from across the globe.
"Dynamic Belfast has put its troubled past behind it and is a city transformed, its streets packed with buzzing bars and great stories, while the coastline beyond boasts spectacular scenery and plenty of great diversions.
"The region may be famous for Game of Thrones but its many scenic filming locations are just the start."
Here is Lonely Planet's video on Northern IrelandAccording to travel guide, the UK is one of the world's best value destinations for 2018 because of the slump in the value of the pound.
Lonely Planet is urging holidaymakers from overseas to "reap the rewards" of currency exchange rates while the UK Government "busies itself with Brexit".
It lists the UK as number seven on its table of the best value countries to visit next year.