Charity Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland has revealed an 130 per cent surge in traffic to its OutmoreNI.com website, which lists information on hundreds of trails and places across NI, including walking trails, cycling trails, canoe trails, forest parks, beaches and other outdoor areas.
The news comes as the charity’s recently-published People in the Outdoors Monitor for Northern Ireland (POMNI) report shows that around seven in 10 adults living in the Province now visit the outdoors for leisure at least once per week. This equates to 144 million annual visits per year.
The findings are consistent with increased traffic to the OutmoreNI.com website and demonstrate that the unprecedented rise in outdoor activity throughout the pandemic shows no signs of abating.
A considerable 47 per cent of respondents to Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland’s 2020 Engaging with The Outdoors During Covid-19 Lockdown in Northern Ireland report said that they had spent more free time in the outdoors during lockdown than in 2019.
The POMNI survey, which interviewed members of the public between November 2020 and October 2021, also shows that 72 per cent of people interviewed said that their local green space is within easy walking distance, allowing frequent enjoyment of the outdoors.
This increases to 79 per cent for urban areas and decreases to 57 per cent for rural areas.
The outdoor activities cited as most commonly undertaken by respondents were short walks, dog walking, spending time playing with children, and running.
This is also reflected in OutmoreNI.com users’ searches for walks, cycle trails, parks and beaches.
The survey’s participants reported a wide range of benefits from engaging in outdoor recreation, with 78 per cent stating that they gained a sense of wellbeing, including feelings of calmness, relaxation, refreshment, and revitalisation.
This is consistent with findings from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency Wellbeing in Northern Ireland 2020-21 report, which shows that people living in rural areas, surrounded by green space, report a significantly greater sense of happiness and life satisfaction and a lower sense of anxiety than those living in urban areas.
Beverley Magowan, Marketing Manager at Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, says: “It is great to see such an uptake in people exploring the outdoors and we hope that it continues.
“OutmoreNI.com can help people across NI to locate the country’s best walks, trails, family-friendly activities and water sports.
“However, we wish to remind people to explore the outdoors responsibly. We would encourage anyone exploring NI’s great outdoors to stay on the ‘Right Side of Outside’.
“You can do this by planning ahead – checking the weather and bringing the right equipment such as clothing, footwear, map, wet suit, paddles, etc.
“You should also ensure that your dog is kept on a lead to avoid worrying livestock and disturbing wildlife and ensure that you take your dog waste and litter home with you.
“It is also critical to avoid starting open fires in the countryside and to limit camping or lighting a BBQ to designated areas.
“Finally, we would urge you to be considerate of locals by not blocking access and only parking your car in designated spaces.”
n To discover a range of outdoor trails and places to explore throughout Northern Ireland, visit outmoreni.com
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